Encountering the Sovereign Other

Encountering the Sovereign Other

Indigenous Science Fiction

American Indian Studies

by Miriam C. Brown Spiers

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Imprint: Michigan State University Press

184 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.00 in

  • ISBN: 9781611864052
  • Published: December 2021

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Science fiction often operates as either an extended metaphor for human relationships or as a genuine attempt to encounter the alien Other. Both types of stories tend to rehearse the processes of colonialism, in which a sympathetic protagonist encounters and tames the unknown. Despite this logic, Native American writers have claimed the genre as a productive space in which they can critique historical colonialism and reassert the value of Indigenous worldviews. Encountering the Sovereign Other proposes a new theoretical framework for understanding Indigenous science fiction, placing Native theorists like Vine Deloria Jr. and Gregory Cajete in conversation with science fiction theorists like Darko Suvin, David Higgins, and Michael Pinsky. In response to older colonial discourses, many contemporary Indigenous authors insist that readers acknowledge their humanity while recognizing them as distinct peoples who maintain their own cultures, beliefs, and nationhood. Here author Miriam C. Brown Spiers analyzes four novels: William Sanders’s The Ballad of Billy Badass and the Rose of Turkestan, Stephen Graham Jones’s It Came from Del Rio, D. L. Birchfield’s Field of Honor, and Blake M. Hausman’s Riding the Trail of Tears. Demonstrating how Indigenous science fiction expands the boundaries of the genre while reinforcing the relevance of Indigenous knowledge, Brown Spiers illustrates the use of science fiction as a critical compass for navigating and surviving the distinct challenges of the twenty-first century.