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Published: 2023-09-19

New book on how the image of the Arctic changes in speculative fiction

NEWS What is the function of the Arctic in speculative fiction? And how do speculative elements affect the image of the Arctic? In a new book, Maria Lindgren Leavenworth analyses how writers from the 19th century to the present have imagined the Arctic and how these images are based on, or change, Arctic discourses.

– Speculative fiction makes us think about what we take for granted. Based on the premise of "what if...", speculative fiction can create alternative versions of reality with both large and small shifts. In the book, the Arctic is the starting point for analyses of alternative history and geography, of ghosts, monsters, and viruses that come to light, and of environmental and climate-related issues," says Maria Lindgren Leavenworth.

The primary material in The Imagined Arctic in Speculative Fiction ranges from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to the present day. Both traditional representations of the Arctic as empty and alien, and contemporary (and future) images of, among other things, climate change are part of the analysis material.

–  The Arctic has moved into our consciousness as a central part of the Earth's machinery. It has always been a productive area for writers' imaginations, but in the 21st century we have seen an increase in interest. Where nineteenth-century writers described forgotten civilisations in an isolated Arctic, today's writers take climate change as the starting point for stories about how the Arctic becomes a last outpost, a place where society collapses or builds up, or where humanity comes to an end or a new beginning.

The Imagined Arctic in Speculative Fiction is published by Routledge and i savailable as e-book.