Episode Two

“To create today is to create dangerously. Any publication is an act, and that act exposes one to the passions of an age that forgives nothing.” – Albert Camus

Deletion can involve cathartic residues, and the experience of being erased can be an intensely powerful and affective one. Deletion inspires through the fear of losing what has already been achieved, and through the thrill of finding resurrection in the act of erasure. The secret pleasure of picking apart one’s hard work in the search of perfection, like the rapid removal of a bandaid to see glued skin, or in continually losing at a game only to start again, is often painful but concomitantly deeply rewarding and satisfying. The act of deletion, as it is with the philosophy of science fiction, requires the courage to take up a new position, to hold a different perspective, to change what has been done and to consider the new and the old each on its own terms, while grasping the power and beauty of both simultaneously.

The second album, the second series, the second volume, or the second performance: each requires the creator to improve on the original by first undoing what has been done previously. The sequel, the follow up, and the second iteration must tear down in order to create anew. The ‘difficult’ second act requires taking on a new position, a new perspective undoubtedly connected but removed from the first. Artists have always been faced with the challenge of the follow up to a strong debut. The expectation of the successor is to improve and expand on previous findings, and each new iteration is scrutinised and measured against previous heights, almost impossible to surpass.

The solution of course, is to meet strength with difference and excellence forged in new directions. The answer is to force new perspectives to disorient and reorient the audience, the viewer, the listener, the reader so that they travel along a new trajectory. In the inaugural Deletion episode, our contributors were asked to write about the pleasure of science fiction, while in this episode we have sought to bring you as broad a mix of critical insights and creative responses to the contemporary challenges of SF. However, as it so happens in the ‘drama’ of great science fiction, a common thread has emerged.

Each of our contributors brings an affecting reorientation to a particular media, so that something familiar is rendered as excitingly strange and different – a move that doubles the relation between object and subject, text and audience, and between creation and deletion. Episode Two brings together critical perspectives on film, literature, music, photography, cinema and television, in an experience that intends to be auratic, televisual, literary, and imaginary. Each piece removes and replaces, replenishes and nourishes, so that we move science fiction forward with new perspectives and orientations.

Rhian Sheehan presents Future Mughal Empire, a sonic tapestry inspired by Blade Runner. Carrying a field recorder on travels through India and Japan, Sheehan arrived home with a large selection of interesting sounds and a vision of Asia 100 years from now. His creation is an auratic version of what this world might sound like if you were walking through it and it serves as an accompaniment to this Episode as you wander through its offerings.

Kevin Fisher examines the science fiction modalities of Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity through the film’s technical framing and its perceptual composition. Looking beyond the narrative, Fisher argues that in Gravity’s transformation of visual perspectives, particularly the shifts in the embodiment of vision, its diegetic world reveals a human-technological relation of extended perception.

Brent Bellamy takes us on a journey between history and future, from Austen’s domesticity, to Shelly’s monster, and beyond to Alan DeNiro’s Total Oblivion, More or Less. Bellamy plots a shift between the tragedy and farce of narrative resolution and the bourgeois ideologies rendered in the utopian and dystopian claims to familiarity and strangeness that are revealed in the fictions of the post-apocalyptic novel.

Carl Abbott remediates the image of the city laid to waste that characterises many iconic science fiction texts, instead arguing that urban landscapes and science fiction knit closely together, one re-imagining the other. Abbott maps out the ways in which science fiction centres around processes of ‘city-building’, and suggests that contemporary urban spaces ring with the possibilities of creative exchange and technological development upon which science fiction as a genre is built.

Andrew Frost examines the enigmatic science fiction photography of Gregory Crewdson’s serial images from the 1990s and 2000s. Moving from the referential language of cinema, Frost considers Crewdson’s pictorial collections and the transformation of space and time that invite the viewer into an assembly of narrative and experience that disrupts the knowledge of tropes and technologies of cinema.

Alex Funke explores the visual and perceptual complexities of creating realistic and impressionable miniatures for films such as The Abyss and Waterworld. Alex, an Oscar-winning cinematographer and miniatures creator, explores light, depth, size and scale, and the power of creating small worlds that capture big and spectacular environments.

Sophie Davidson Gluyas interrogates the reaction of Doctor Who fandom on Facebook to the apparently apocalyptic suggestion that a female take the lead role in the television series. A timely examination of the transphobic, racist, homophobic and bigoted public responses of ‘fans’ in the lead up to an important event – the regeneration of the Doctor in his 50th year anniversary.

Marleen S. Barr beams us into the world of feminist science fiction scholar and adventurer Sondra Lear. The protagonist of Barr’s creative works confronts the reorientation of family and historical cultural heritage as Lear meets the alien versions of Lauren Bacall and Bess Meyerson, and with them the post-apocalyptic visions of family and identity.