Thursday 23 May 2024

Future Blues, or Houellebecq's Submission

A general election on 4th July, you say? Sa it happens I'll be talking about the Conservatives on that date. Instead of hitting the streets to remind "the vote" to turn out, Liverpool is where I will be. My reasons for being there is because of the Current Research in Speculative Fiction conference, and in particular the paper below. If you're in the area and fancy a break from campaigning, come along!

Future Blues: Uncovering the Rules for Conservative Mundane SF

The publication of Michel Houellebecq’s Submission in French in 2015 attracted press criticism that drew attention to its critique of Islam, its nihilism, and depiction of women. Subsequent scholarship has meditated on these themes, as well as mapping how its critical reception was overdetermined by political partisanship (Ã…gerup 2019). Rather than debating its contested interpretation and nuances, Houellebecq’s novel can be read as an articulation of the rules of conservative polemic through the evocation of tropes common to right wing establishment political commentary. This paper specifies these rules by comparing the novel to mundane SF vignettes occasionally employed by Conservative Party supporting newspapers in the UK to ideologically cohere their readers in advance of important elections. These typically depict what grim future awaits the country if Labour are elected to office. This paper argues that while Submission is far from a crude propaganda piece, it shares certain assumptions about the way of the world with the column inches commissioned to outrage and frighten conservative-leaning audiences.

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