American Cities in Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction

Robert Yeates

ISBN: 9781800080980

Publication: November 15, 2021

Series: Modern Americas

What is this?
Visions of the American city in post-apocalyptic ruin permeate literary and popular fiction, across print, visual, audio and digital media. American Cities in Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction explores the prevalence of these representations in American culture, drawing from a wide range of primary and critical works from the early-twentieth century to today.

Beginning with science fiction in literary magazines, before taking in radio dramas, film, video games and expansive transmedia franchises, Robert Yeates argues that post-apocalyptic representations of the American city are uniquely suited for explorations of contemporary urban issues. Examining how the post-apocalyptic American city has been repeatedly adapted and repurposed to new and developing media over the last century, this book reveals that the content and form of such texts work together to create vivid and immersive fictional spaces in ways that would otherwise not be possible. Chapters present media-specific analyses of these texts, situating them within their historical contexts and the broader history of representations of urban ruins in American fiction.

Original in its scope and cross-media approach, American Cities in Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction both illuminates little-studied texts and provides provocative new readings of familiar works such as Blade Runner and The Walking Dead, placing them within the larger historical context of imaginings of the American city in ruins.

Robert Yeates is Senior Assistant Professor of American literature at Okayama University, Japan.

List of figures

1. Urban apocalypse in the magazines
2. Listening to ruins on the radio
3. Cinema and the aesthetics of destruction
4. Urban decay in the transmedia universe of Blade Runner
5. Playing in virtual ruins from Wasteland to Wasteland 2
6. Cities and sanctuary in The Walking Dead


'If romantic poets like Percy Bysshe Shelley dreamed of the ruins of the ancient world and saw them as a commentary upon the present, many cultural producers have been equally obsessed with imagining the ruins of their present. In this new book, Robert Yeates explores the ways in which cultural producers have imagined their own world in ruins and does so across a range of cultural forms: literature, films, computer games and more. More importantly, Yeates focuses on the imaginary devastation of modern cities, and so provides a fascinating study of cultural attitudes to the urban and its destruction. Finally, and most significantly, it provides an essential account of apocalyptic thinking that is also fun to read - or as fun as any account of the apocalypse can be!' – Mark Jancovich, University of East Anglia

‘This study breaks important new ground in examining depictions of US cities in the wake of apocalypse from Jack London up to the present. As well as giving suggestive new readings of key works, it also examines the effects of a whole range of different media from radio to film and video gaming.’ – David Seed, University of Liverpool

Format: Open Access PDF

28 colour illustrations

Copyright: © 2021

ISBN: 9781800080980

Publication: November 15, 2021

Series: Modern Americas

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