“Shades of an urban frontier,” Robert Arthur Gillespie

Cover of Dune
Cover of Dune
Cover of Dune, from Hevelin Collection Tumblr http://hevelincollection.tumblr.com/post/112655249368/here-is-our-copy-of-the-first-edition-of-frank

Robert Arthur Gillespie’s 2015 dissertation looks at cities, science fiction literature and the place of race within them. Writes Gillespie:


Cities have a paradoxical relationship with science fiction literature […] This relationship is even more complex in sf works by African American authors, as contemporary African American fiction in general takes the city as the dominant context for black social life and has turned to interrogate “issues of urban community” in the post-Civil Rights era.

Read more about how science fiction narratives explore political and environmental crises with a particular emphasis on race. Looking at urban expanses like Frank Herbert’s Arrakeen in Dune, Gillespie uses “two city typologies […] the ‘imperial city’ that reigns at the heart of sf’s many empires, and the empty metropolis of the ‘dead city’ or ‘ghost city.'”

Robert Arthur Gillespie. “Shades of an urban frontier : historical resonances in the cities of Black and Anglophone SF.” PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2015.