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


  • Jessica McDonald University of Saskatchewan



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.

Author Biography

Jessica McDonald, University of Saskatchewan

Jessica McDonald is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan. She researches contemporary Canadian literature, and her dissertation interrogates the spatial politics of a few of Douglas Coupland’s major works, demonstrating the implications of his cultural and geographic revision of North America.