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Alien Constructions

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Alien Constructions

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Alien Constructions
Science Fiction and Feminist Thought

By Patricia Melzer
University of Texas Press, Austin: 2006
ISBN: 0-292-71307-X.

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - Posted August 15, 2012

Science Fiction has long been a genre that is highly adapt at tackling not only scientific and ethical issues, but also at tackling vexing and controversial societal and philosophical issues in a non-threatening manner. One topic that has been fully examined via the 'science fiction' lense is the role of women in society and how scientific advances offer the chance for women to better reach their full potential. In Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought, Patricia Melzer offers an in-depth overview of how women's issues, from gender stereotypes to sexuality have been treated through the lense of Science Fiction, as well as how Science Fiction writing can be used as a platform from which to experiment with alternative societal organizations.

In writing this book, Melzer has contained her examination of feminist thought in science fiction primarily to the works of Octavia E. Butler, Richard Calder, and Melissa Scott, and to The Matrix and Alien film series. The books most referred to in this text are Butler's Survior, Dawn, Wild Seed, and Imago, Calder's Dead Girls, and Scott's Shadow Man.

The text is divided into three parts:
  1. Difference, Identity, and Colonial Experience in Feminist Science Fiction
  2. Technologies and Gender in Science Fiction Film
  3. Posthuman Embodiment: Deviant Bodies, Desires, and Feminist Politics.
As a whole, this text gives an academic survey of how feminist thought and identity are melded with science and technology in Science Fiction literature to present a diverse and thought-provoking glimpse of what 'might be' and how current political, social, and religious pressures are shaping the roles, attitudes, and expectations of women from many different social, economic, and political backgrounds and how scientific advances (or possible advances such as androids) have the possibility of being both empowering and liberating for women.

Melzer is the Director of the Women's Study Program at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and this text is well suited for use in a range of University level courses including those related to film, science fiction, and women's studies, as well as in courses dealing with literary criticism. In addition, Alien Constructions is an intriguing and through provoking book that will be of interest to both academicians as well as to members of the general public who are seeking to better understand how science fiction literature can be used as a prism through which to view current political and social trends and problems on both a personal and global level.

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