The Other Niece of Utopia: Fantasy

  • Chantal Zabus


Judging by the recurrent prominence of Caliban in such titles as Gotlieb’s O Master Caliban!, Rachel Ingalls’s Mrs. Caliban, Russell Hoban’s Libretto about Caliban and Miranda, and Tad Williams’s Caliban’s Hour, one might be lured into thinking that these texts are Caliban-rather than Prospero-centered. Yet, upon closer scrutiny, it appears that even if these texts do voice a counter-discourse within the bounds of postmodernism, these voices are recuperated or ultimately controlled by Prospero-like forces. In other words, postmodern Prospero has conjured up these new Calibans in a perverted hauntology or the latter have perniciously turned into Prosperos. As a result, Calibans dream is a utopian fantasy engineered or deferred by a manipulative Prospero. Likewise, the authors’ pairing off of Caliban and Miranda, in an attempt to dismantle The Tempest’s original Miranda-Prospero and Caliban-Sycorax half-families, is ultimately killed off by Prospero’s master-narrative. In that respect, the fantasy novella Mrs. Caliban (1982), by American-born Rachel Ingalls, foregrounds Caliban and his “woman” but provides powerful reminders that Caliban is the product of Prospero’s sadistic science. Also, in its dialogue with American monster-movies and its re-inscription of the core love story within the North-South power structure, Mrs. Caliban quenches whatever feminist utopia it originally proffered.


Science Fiction Oceanographic Research Expectant Father Supernatural Explanation Interracial Couple 
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© Chantal Zabus 2002

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  • Chantal Zabus

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