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Beyond Generic Hybridity: Nalo Hopkinson and the Politics of Science Fiction

Jessica McDonald

Abstract


Using Nalo Hopkinson’s novel Brown Girl in the Ring as a case study, I argue that science fiction—as a rhetorically-structured genre—has functioned in insidious, neo-colonial ways to ghettoize non-white, non-Western epistemologies by rejecting them as “science” fiction and relegating them to the realm of “fantasy.” I reveal how Hopkinson’s novel illustrates that the colonial and science fictional agendas can be paired, contending that Brown Girl can be read in two ways: first, as a commentary on ongoing colonial paradigms, and second, as a critique of science fiction in general. From this, I further develop the problems of science fiction, including that its generic circumscriptions police the conceptual boundaries of the future by structurally designating which futures are scientific or plausible. I conclude by addressing the various solutions presented by others and counter that any productive generic transformation must come from within the existing category of science fiction.

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