Coda: Genres of Futurity

  • Justin Omar Johnston
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


This coda crystalizes my argument about contemporary dystopian and apocalyptic narratives. Twenty-first-century dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels offer dependent but distinct social imaginaries about the trajectory of post-industrial life. Where dystopian futurities typically project an intensification of technological surveillance, post-apocalyptic narratives often hinge on the fatal inability of institutions and networks to effectively manage threats posed by non-human forces, viruses, toxins, and climates. Pairing Charlie Booker’s “White Bear” episode of the TV series Black Mirror with Colson Whitehead’s novel Zone One, I analyse the pivotal instant when the genre of both of these texts suddenly changes: the dystopian becomes apocalyptic and vice versa. This moment of bewilderment, I argue, is a symptom produced by a generic engine that represents future catastrophes as alibis for more exacting forms of dystopian control, and represents dystopian control as precipitating ever more catastrophic catastrophes.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin Omar Johnston
    • 1
  1. 1.Stony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

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