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The Cross, the Plow and the Skyline

Contemporary Science Fiction and the Ecological Imagination

by Ernest J. Yanarella

Paperback eBook PDF

Publisher: BrownWalker Press
Pub date: 2001
Pages: 329
ISBN-10: 1581124023
ISBN-13: 9781581124026
Categories: Social ScienceLiterature & Literary Criticism


The apocalyptic, pastoral, and urban traditions have fundamentally shaped Western history and influenced American religion, culture, and politics. This book argues that these traditions have not only been decisive in giving form and substance to classic and modern American literature, but have been appropriated by contemporary science fiction. As a loosely connected set of cultural narratives, the Cross, the Plow, and the Skyline have through the medium of science fiction provided a bold vista on the future grounded in an emergent ecological imagination. This challenging vision, the author claims, may yet settle into the New Millennium's cultural consciousness and inform an ecological politics dedicated to confronting the nation's and the world's social and environmental problems.

This is a refreshing, imaginative, and insightful book. The author's familiarity with a wide-range of issues in history, philosophy, politics, cultural theory, religion, and literary theory makes possible a very instructive and illuminating interpretation of a literary genre--science fiction--that has too often been marginalized. This book deserves a large audience from many different fields.
--Michael E. Zimmerman, Professor and Chair, Philosophy, Tulane University

Yanarella's main argument about the importance of science fiction in the literary and political life of the United States, as well as the analysis of key discursive motifs like the cross, the plow, and the skyline, are both incisively formulated. What is most enjoyable in this book is Yanarella's artful combination of critical theory with American science fiction. This book could be used in many different academic courses in the humanities and social sciences because of its analytical scope.
--Tim Luke, Distinguished Professor, Political Science, Virginia Tech

About the Author

Ernest J. Yanarella is Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Center for Sustainable Cities at the University of Kentucky.