© 2020

Posthuman Biopolitics

The Science Fiction of Joan Slonczewski

  • Bruce Clarke

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Science and Popular Culture book series (PSSPC)

About this book


This volume presents the first collection of essays dedicated to the science fiction of microbiologist Joan Slonczewski. Posthuman Biopolitics consolidates the scholarly literature on Slonczewski’s fiction and demonstrates fruitful lines of engagement for the critical, cultural, and theoretical treatment of her characters, plots, and storyworlds. Her novels treat feminism in relation to scientific practice, resistance to domination, pacifism versus militarism, the extension of human rights to nonhuman and posthuman actors, biopolitics and posthuman ethics, and symbiosis and communication across planetary scales. Posthuman Biopolitics explores the breadth and depth of Joan Slonczewski’s vision, uncovering the reflective ethical practice that informs her science fiction.


posthumanism biopolitics Joan Slonczewski ethics science fiction Microbiology

Editors and affiliations

  • Bruce Clarke
    • 1
  1. 1.Texas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

About the editors

Bruce Clarke is Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Literature and Science in the Department of English at Texas Tech University, USA. His books include Gaian Systems: Lynn Margulis, Neocybernetics, and the End of the Anthropocene (2020) and Neocybernetics and Narrative (2014). With Manuela Rossini, Clarke also co-edited The Cambridge Companion to Literature and the Posthuman (2017).

Bibliographic information


“Joan Slonczewski is both a working scientist and a visionary science fiction writer. Her work is grounded in new understandings of biological complexity; it asks us to extend our sympathies beyond the human, and to engage on equal terms with the other organisms with whom we share our world. This volume is the first to explore Slonczewski's work in depth; it establishes her crucial importance at a time of impending environmental catastrophe.”

Steven Shaviro, DeRoy Professor of English, Wayne State University, USA


“At long last—a volume devoted to the writing of Joan Slonczewski! This magnificent, wide-ranging collection of essays demonstrates the importance of Slonczewski’s work for feminist science, speculative fiction, ecology, posthumanism, biopolitics, multispecies communities, symbiotic relations, microbial life, and more ethical futures.  The essays, as well as the interview with Slonczewski, provide essential contexts for understanding her work, as they advance broader discussions regarding speculative fiction, biology, and science studies.”

Stacy Alaimo, Professor of English, University of Oregon, USA


“I truly welcome this publication exploring the diversity and complexity of Joan Slonczewski’s fiction. The authors unpack Slonczewski’s masterful interweaving of multiple concerns and ethics, highlighting her questioning of what an ideal society might be, her acute perception of the blindspots of any centrism, as well as her reconceptualization of what interspecies ethics means. The wealth of perspectives makes this volume a much needed response to the diverse crises of the 21st century.”

Carmen Flys-Junquera, Profesora Honorífica de Investigación, University of Alcalá, Madrid, Spain, and Chief Editor of Ecozon@. European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment