Strange Encounters: Speculative Visions of the Conquest of the Americas
UC Santa Cruz
Strange Encounters: Speculative Visions of the Conquest of the Americas is an interdisciplinary study of late twentieth- and early twenty-first century literature and art that engages the historical legacy of the conquest of the Americas. The book’s original contribution is that it focuses exclusively on speculative narratives, both in the North American tradition of science fiction and in the Latin American tradition of fantastic literature. More specifically, this project focuses on a sub-set of SF narratives and artworks that combine deep historical research with an ethically grounded speculation. Some of these narratives take the form of alternative histories (or “uchronias”), while others play with more familiar tropes of alien contact. These speculative narratives use the SF form to “historicize” alternative timelines, whether these timelines imagine an Aztec conquest of Europe, or restage a decisive colonial encounter as an ontological battle between otherworldly beings. This project follows artists and authors on a journey that exceeds the scale of existing maps, through lands of varying hospitality, in an exercise of the literary imagination. As a whole, this collection of “alternative historical” encounters invites the reader to imagine the absolute novelty of a contact event, and to ponder how–exactly–newness enters into the world.