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“From a certain angle”: Ecothriller Reading and Science Fiction Reading The Swarm and The Rapture

Keywords: Ecothrillers , Science Fiction , Extrapolation , The Swarm , The Rapture.

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Abstract:

Read as apocalyptic ecothrillers, Frank Sch tzing’s The Swarm and Liz Jensen’sThe Rapture do not offer much in the way of critical reflection on the ecocatastrophesthey stage. The Swarm’s focus on the feat of confronting the violent efforts of asuperintelligent, deep-sea species to protect its ocean habitat against continued humanexploitation and The Rapture’s focus on the feat of locating on time the psychicallypredicteddisaster zone of an impending undersea calamity overshadow their more thanoccasional spotlighting of, for example, the dangers of methane hydrate mining. Sciencefiction, however, requires readers to be attentive to those narrative moments whenincongruities between the known world and the extrapolated world of the text emergewith critical, not just plot-supporting, purpose. Fundamental to the reading andinterpretation of science fiction is the reader’s awareness of the genre’s extrapolativepractice, which connects the now with the imagined then and therefore instigatescritical thinking about present human practices. Read as extrapolative science fiction,The Swarm and The Rapture gain merit as ecopolitical works, for “science fictionreading” mobilizes the latent ecopolitics of ecothrillers, ecopolitics that “ecothrillerreading” would otherwise diminish or fail to notice.

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