Franco Lai

(Im)possible Worlds. Apocalyptic Narratives in Science Fiction

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In this essay I present an interpretation of dystopian narratives concerning catastrophes produced by human activities. The idea that cultural industry could shape the fears of the industrial world was already present in Ernesto De Martino. According to De Martino, in the world of his time there was widespread fear of «atomic catastrophe». Today, fear of nuclear conflict has replaced other apocalyptic images such as the Anthropocene and pandemics. The contemporary imagination regarding the end of the world appears to be represented by a set of narratives characteristic of industrial society: nuclear conflicts, epidemics, environmental deterioration, etc. In this essay I will try to show how these narratives have elaborated stories that take place in «impossible» but increasingly real worlds.


  • Science Fiction
  • End of the World
  • Industrial Societies
  • Dystopian Literature
  • Mass Culture


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