This book is about the human desire to experiment with empire. In the past it was done with real soldiers and expeditions and slaves and trade and misery and force. In the future it will be done with generation ships and off-world pioneers, robots and invasion, electronic sheep and people who just don't want to be pushed around any more. Beginning with a discussion of who `we' are (hopefully, the good guys) and who `they' are (anyone who isn't us), this narrative scans the lights of science fiction looking at the places where humans try to touch a variety of futures. Is SF designed to purge our dark imperialistic fantasies, or is it a laboratory of mind-experiments: carefully considered trials of political, social and economic scenarios? Which tomorrow are we more likely to accept - where the blood of empire is red or read ? Examining such classic SF texts as Lasswitz's Two Planets and Wells' The War of the Worlds, this book investigates Asimov's Robots and Heinlein's Moon, as well as Robinson's Mars and Banks' postcolonial Culture. We see the rise-and-fall of empire through the eyes of Miller, Clarke and Wyndham, and the apparently inevitable failure of the imperial project as discussed in Solaris, The Dispossessed and The Forever War. This book offers an insight into the darkest power abuses of mankind; where the oppression, silencing and marginalisation of those who are not-us continues and flourishes. Who are the monsters of our future - the Others invading from another planet, or the unseen and unrecognised Other within?
Patricia Kerslake is Adjunct Senior Lecturer at Central Queensland University and a contributor to 'The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy'.