In the 1985 essay that defined the terms for feminist thinking about science and technology in the decades since, Donna Haraway observed that “the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion.” She drew together the cybernetic organisms of fact and fiction, the beings of shiny technology and messy biological stuff, and her terms and her ideas came as much from the creative thinkers of feminist science fiction (Octavia Butler, Joanna Russ) as they did from technologists, political thinkers, and philosophers.
It’s 2013, and the cyborg manifesto is old enough to vote. Where are feminist science fictions now, and what can they tell us about feminism and technology? New media make our experiences of social reality resonant with classics of speculative fiction, particularly works that accounted for the uneven distribution of futuristic technologies and their participation in hierarchies of race, gender, capital, and ability. Literary scholars continue to explore the intricacies of works by Octavia Butler, James Tiptree Jr., Joanna Russ, et al., while the aesthetic and political techniques of critical and creative speculative thinking that these writers pioneered are taken up in multiple forms. Fiction writers like Nalo Hopkinson, Andrea Hairston, L. Timmel Duchamp, and many more bring questions of language, culture, race, and violence into the fray, as social media platforms like blogs, twitter, and Facebook deepen conversations between writers and fans. Small presses continue to support the older technology of the printed page and to articulate why written visions matter for a possible feminist future.
Feminist science fiction has never only existed between the bindings of books, however. Fictional speculation is part of how we understand ourselves in relationship to technology; from the way our smartphones seem to extend our embodied being, to the difference it makes when we shift our perspective and think instead of the being of the gendered bodies who made them, to the imaginative constructions we produce of the wireless waves and fiber optic cables that link us to collaborators, interlocutors, and friends. Ada is published by the Fembot Collective’s academic network, which is itself a feminist science fiction. An imagined array of co-conspirators made real, its name indexes the power in reworking the venerable sci-fi trope of the gendered automaton. Technological speculation is our social reality, and feminist science fiction has the tools to code it to the specifications of our politics.
Feminist science fiction describes a diverse landscape of multimodal, multiplatform, multifaceted cultural production. It is a means for thinking marked bodies into technological contexts, from Ada Lovelace herself to Janelle Monae’s racialized android Cindi Merriweather. It is also the visual and conversational online cultures that endlessly repeat, reblog, argue, and fight back about what real and imagined futures of gender, race, technology, and representation ought to be like. It may even be the new philosophical modalities of materialist speculation, when they acknowledge that the hierarchized markings on bodies we name as race and gender are not limited to some narrowly defined conception of the human. And it is the unpredictable future of what cybernetics and organisms could be and could become, in the flesh and in plastic, silicon, steel.
The third issue of Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology seeks essays on any of these and more. We welcome unpublished work from scholars of any discipline and background, including collaborative, nontraditional, or multimodal approaches that can especially benefit from the journal’s open access online status.
Topics and approaches might include, but are not limited to:
• Key works of feminist science fiction and their relevance for new media and technology studies
• Gender, race, sexuality, and/or disability in science fiction literature, film, and television
• Feminist speculation in new media production
• Feminist science fiction’s online fan cultures
• Speculative or science-fictional tropes in new media and technology theory and practice
General Submission Requirements
Authors should submit essays of 4000-9000 words directly to the editor in Rich Text Format (.rtf) or MS Word format (.doc) by 1 May 2013. We encourage you to discuss potential contributions in advance of the submission deadline, particularly for those contributors interested in multimodal contributions. Contributions in formats other than the traditional essay are encouraged; please contact the editor to discuss specifications.
All submissions should be accompanied by the following information in the email message with your submission attachment:
• Name(s), affiliation(s), email address(es) of the person(s) submitting. • Title of the text and the issue for which it is submitted. • An abstract of no more than 100 words. • A short paragraph (40-60 words) about the contributor(s).
Further guidelines for submission format can be found here: http://adanewmedia.org/submissions/ Please include text descriptions for images and transcripts or subtitles for audio or video files.
Send submissions and correspondence to Alexis Lothian: email@example.com