The Shatnerification of Shakespeare

Star Trek and the Commonplace Tradition
  • Craig Dionne


It could be argued that science fiction has one distinctive narrative feature, defined by the genre’s ability to depict the future as a direct outcome of the present. Specifically, its representation of the future implies a temporal causality that civilization progresses through history as a result of material conditions of the past. The world we live in now, these stories suggest, places limits and constraints on the unfolding history of our future. In some examples of the genre—where society in the future is rendered as chaos and catastrophe, the dim horizon of a postnuclear winter or the victim of technology in an overly industrialized world (here for examples we might think of Ursula Le Guin’s Lathe of Heaven or Philip K. Dick’s Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep, or the films Metropolis, or Robocop, Terminator)—the narrative mode has the potential to demystify one of the fundamental ideals of modern Western capitalism: the myth of progress, the idea that history naturally progresses toward a more prosperous and democratic civilization.


Science Fiction Television Series Star Trek Liberal Culture Quotation Manual 
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Copyright information

© Richard Burt 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig Dionne

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