‘Food from Nowhere’: Food, Fuel and the Fantastical

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Abstract

Science fiction (sf) has repeatedly explored the social and environmental consequences of technological developments in food and energy production. Never before have these explorations been of more importance and significance; recent shifts in resource extraction and processing (by both fossil fuel and ‘biofuel’ companies) have dramatically increased the reach and destructiveness of industrial food and energy production, as well as the extent of their entanglement. This article will begin by giving an indication of the reach and impacts of modern biofuel production, followed by a brief examination of the ‘food sovereignty’ movement and the theoretical frameworks and practical strategies that underpin it.

Through the lens of the ‘food sovereignty’ movement, the article examines the ways in which sf writing and culture has explored the entanglement of food and energy regimes. Taking three aspects developed from the ‘six pillars’ of food sovereignty – political power, ecological integration and the fantastical – I examine three sf texts which place at their centre concerns over the entanglement of food and energy regimes. As I go on to demonstrate, all three texts – Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966), the British post-apocalyptic TV show Survivors (1975–7), and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (2009) – use elements of the fantastical to explore and make visible effects which are rarely seen or only understood in the abstract language of international political economy. I then conclude by reflecting on the urgent need apply these insights in the struggle for a fairer and more sustainable food system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalOpen Library of Humanities
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2018

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science fiction
sovereignty
energy production
biofuel
regime
energy
technical development
political power
indication
political economy
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Bibliographical note

© 2018 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution,
and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Cite this

‘Food from Nowhere’: Food, Fuel and the Fantastical. / Maughan, Chris.

In: Open Library of Humanities, Vol. 4, No. 1, 24.04.2018, p. 1-30.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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