Cities in flight: a descriptive examination of the tropical city imagined in twentieth century science fiction cover art

Menadue, Christopher B. (2018) Cities in flight: a descriptive examination of the tropical city imagined in twentieth century science fiction cover art. Etropic: electronic journal of studies in the tropics, 17 (2). pp. 62-82.

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A search for imaginary cities and city-like objects portrayed in twentieth century science fiction magazine cover art employed digital tools and followed a PRISMA methodology for systematic analysis. The findings include a correlation between indigenous peoples being portrayed as possessing less advanced technology than human visitors or human city builders in the tropics. Human cultural tropes are identified in the depiction of indigenous peoples, and trends over time in the increasing sophistication of portrayals, and a decline in gratuitously sexual artwork are visible, which supports findings of other work on changing cultural perceptions of the tropics found in science fiction. Notable themes were the tropics as a place of conflict, simplistic depictions of women, the difference between the portrayal of jungle and desert environments and the colonial mythology perpetuated in cover art over this period. Science fiction cities of the tropics were often still or devoid of life, rather than vibrant, active places. An intriguing finding was that building a filtering model for tropical environments in a science fiction setting leads naturally to a consideration of how the concept of the tropics is based on arbitrary, Earthly, cartographic conventions, which do not exist on other worlds. This difference highlights the value-laden meaning of tropical environments and societies applied by the ‘alien,’ whether European colonist or visiting Earthling, and that the inhabitants of the tropics are not bound by these conventions.

Item ID: 55976
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-2940
Keywords: tropics, science fiction, art, magazine, city
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Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2018 23:16
FoR Codes: 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470213 Postcolonial studies @ 30%
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470523 North American literature @ 40%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4406 Human geography > 440612 Urban geography @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing @ 50%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950205 Visual Communication @ 30%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950506 Understanding the Past of the Americas @ 20%
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