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The Ex-Human: Science Fiction and the Fate of Our Species

$ 26.00

Facing threats like climate change and nuclear warfare, science fiction authors have conjured apocalyptic scenarios of human extinction. Can such gloomy fates help us make sense of our contemporary crises? How important is the survival of our species if we wind up battling for an Earth that has become an unhabitable hellscape? What other possible futures do narratives of the end of humanity allow us to imagine?

Michael Bérubé explores the surprising insights of classic and contemporary works of SF that depict civilizational collapse and contemplate the fate of 
Homo sapiens. In a lively, conversational style, he considers novels by writers including Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Liu Cixin, Philip K. Dick, and Octavia Butler, as well as films that feature hostile artificial intelligence, such as 2001: A Space OdysseyBlade Runner, and the Terminator and Matrix franchises. Bérubé argues that these works portray a future in which we have become able to see ourselves from the vantage point of something other than the human. Though framed by the possibility of human extinction, they are driven by a vision of the “ex-human”―a desire to imagine that another species is possible. For all science fiction readers worried about the fate of humanity, The Ex-Human is an entertaining yet sobering account of how key novels and films envision the world without us.

Michael Bérubé
Paperback, 312 pages
Columbia University Press
ISBN 9780231215053