Futuristic Cars and Space Bicycles

BookFuturistic Cars and Space Bicycles

Futuristic Cars and Space Bicycles

Contesting the Road in American Science Fiction

Liverpool Science Fiction Texts and Studies, 66


June 4th, 2020

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Given the extensive influence of the 'transport revolution' on the past two centuries (a time when trains, trams, omnibuses, bicycles, cars, airplanes, and so forth were invented), and given science fiction’s overall obsession with machines and technologies of all kinds, it is surprising that scholars have not paid more attention to transportation in this increasingly popular genre. Futuristic Cars and Space Bicycles is the first book to examine the history of representations of road transport machines in nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century American science fiction. The focus of this study is on two machines of the road that have been locked in a constant, often bitter, struggle with one another: the automobile and the bicycle. With chapters ranging from the early science fiction of the pulp magazine era in the 1920s and 1930s, to the postcyberpunk of the 1990s and more recent media of the 2000s such as web television, zines, and comics, this book argues that science fiction by and large perceives the car as anything but a marvelous invention of modernity. Rather, the genre often scorns and ridicules the automobile and instead promotes more sustainable, more benign, more restrained technologies of movement such as the bicycle.

‘With its broad historic reach, its synthesis of a variety of disparate types of research from a variety of scholarly disciplines, its lucid prose, and its welcome readability, Withers' Futuristic Cars and Space Bicycles offers a significant contribution to both ecocritical discourse and the study of science fiction as a genre.’
- Lisa Swanstrom, University of Utah

Author Information

Jeremy Withers is Associate Professor of English at Iowa State University.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures9
1. Perfectibility and Techno-Optimism in the Pulp Era37
2. Murderous Cars, Space Bikes, and Alien Bicycles in the Golden Age77
3. Electric Cars, Autoduelling, and Bike Shares in the New Wave109
4. Messenger Skateboards and Messenger Bikes in Postcyberpunk141
5. Staying Mobile in Postapocalyptic Cli-Fi171
6. Kids on Bikes in Twenty-First-Century Nostalgia Science Fiction201