The Technomyth in Transition: Reading American Popular Culture

Gaile McGregor

In the opening pages of his 1971 study, Politics as Symbolic Action, Murray Edelman underlines his belief that "psychological characteristics, social interaction, and political acts are alternative expressions of the same phenomenon."1 In the discussion that follows, however, he tacitly privileges the political aspect of the transaction to an extent that quite undermines his initial image of an interdependent network of reactive/ responsive processes. The bias is an understandable one, given his anxiety to counter the naive view of " governmental acts as reflections of people's cognitions."2 It is also, unfortunately, a problematic one, insofar as its implication of a self-consciously Machiavellian political leadership deliberately manipulating public affect to its own ends simply substitutes for one misapprehension another equally naive.

The fact is, governments are as likely to be products as creators of political metaphor. Take the case of Ronald Reagan. Just as much as the late-seventies craze for "Western chic" that Janice Rushing talks about in her elucidation of the urban cowboy phenomenon,3 it is clear from a review of media coverage over the last decade that the current president must be seen as a symptom, not a cause, of the recent swing to the right in American politics. "Mythic characterizations of Reagan . . . were created before [his] election," says Sarah Hankins. "The presidential choice in 1980 was an attempt to align the human with the illusion of the heroic a person who could act the part of the leading man and who has cultivated a persona that is quintessentially American -- the classic hero of the Old West."4

Invocations of "choice" notwithstanding, on the other hand, I am as far as Edelman from believing that a leader like Reagan is in any direct and simple sense created by the public will. What I would contend, rather is that both the people and their leaders, the political mood and the government which appears to benefit from it, are created by "history. "For the Structuralist, as for the Idealists of a previous day," says Hayden White, "the culture system lives the individuals and groups caught within its mazes rather than the reverse."5 Intentions, then -- whether of the government or of the private individual -- are in a sense irrelevant when it comes to elucidating the true wellsprings of mass belief or behaviour Indeed, if any element in the cultural gestalt should be privileged, it is the psycho-symbolic subtext, for it is here one finds the generative structures that precede and constrain the particularities of any type of public discourse, political metaphor included.

The situation has considerable ramifications for the prognosticator and the retro-analyst alike. Explicit ideology can no longer be held to constitute our only, or even our best, evidence of political trends and alignments. By reflecting attitude, orientation, stance vis-à-vis the "world" in general, all cultural production may be said to carry political messages. Popular fictions, for all their artlessness, are particularly apt to encode exempla of an ideological nature. Despite the ostentatious apoliticism on which Umberto Eco comments, 6 the superhero fantasy, for instance, by locating evil almost exclusively in attacks on private property underwrites the capitalist enterprise in a subtle but wholly effective fashion. The western, similarly, not only documents and indulges American nostalgia for the wide open spaces but also -- as Rushing makes clear -- mediates the values of "individualism" and "communality" in a manner commensurate with prevailing social exigencies. This last example is particularly apposite for present purposes. Like Rushing I aim in the following paper to demonstrate, by examining in several related popular media the development over time of one single recurrent theme or motif, the extent to which popular culture implicitly reflects, perhaps even anticipates' changes in a prevailing political paradigm.

My point of departure is a selective analysis of images of technology in popular fictions over the past twenty years. In order that the process and not merely the results of the shift of alignment should show up as clearly as possible, the mode of presentation I have elected is an inductive one. I reserve the punchline, in other words, for my conclusions.


The key question for the critic, says Andreas Huyssen, "is not so much to what extent the development of modern technology fuelled the [twentieth-century] artist's imagination, i.e. to what extent technology became the content of the art work. The point is to understand how technology penetrated to the core of the work itself, dissolving the myths. . . of high culture." 7 Huyssen's point is well taken—at least insofar as he is attacking the simplistic assumption that the only important aspect of a book or painting is its subject matter. Insofar as it overlooks the reciprocality of the process of appropriation, it is also, however, misleading. If it is true that technology has changed the way we experience and express our world in this century, it is equally true that the way we experience and express our world constrains the way we experience and express technology.


One of the more notable cult favourites of the late sixties was Frank Herbert's Dune, a novel of adventure set in the far future against a background of galactic feudalism on a desert planet called Arrakis. Without going into the complexities of either the plot or the political background of this book, we will merely note that its significance for present purposes resides in the fact that, although science fiction (SF) by both convention and consensus, at a more fundamental level it is modelled closely on the classic Bildungsroman, a traditional didactic form revolving around the education of a young hero or leader-to-be. Unlike such forerunners as, say, Machiavelli's The Prince, however, Herbert's variant does not body forth the perfectly "civilized" man. Not only, anyway. Conventional training in weaponry, politics, diplomacy, and the courtly arts is not neglected, but this aspect of Paul Atreides's education is for the most part simply assumed. The experience on which the book focusses -- the thing that turns a well-endowed but not particularly extraordinary young nobleman into the great charismatic political and religious leader, Muad'Dib -- is a sojourn in the wilderness which, like both the Hebrews' archetypal pilgrimage and Christ's later ordeal, releases and restructures the seeds of greatness in the boy, transforming him into a very special kind of man.

The tutelary genii of Paul Atreides's initiation are the Fremen, the desert nomads who live in the most savage regions of a planet which, in terms of both climate and geography, is inhospitable as a whole. After Paul's father, the ruling Duke of Arrakis, is deposed and killed in a coup by a feudal competitor, the boy and his mother take refuge with these people, and it is to a significant extent the lessons learned from their way of life which, added to Paul's own considerable powers, give him the personal resources to win back his birthright -- and more -- in the end. On the simplest level it is the desert itself, an environment harsh and demanding to an extreme, that stimulates Paul's development of the superior capacities he needs to survive. It is the Freman, however, who offers him the specific behavioural model that proves so effective not only in the immediate context of the Arrakeen desert but in the political arena at large.

What qualities does this model imply? As one might expect, given the obvious invocation of noble savagery, the book draws heavily on the conventions of literary primitivism. The Freman is hardly the feckless and innocent eighteenth-century child of nature, but he does owe much to the hardy barbarian of earlier, sterner climes. He also owes much to the ~` re-creation of that figure in the person of the backwoodsman of the nineteenth-century American wilderness romance. The first things Paul acquires from Freman culture, consequently, are basic survival traits such as conservation (every drop of moisture must be conserved in a desert environment: "water discipline," which presupposes discipline, care, and restraint on every level, is consequently the most basic law of the land); alertness (in an ultra-hostile environment one must be totally sensitized to his surroundings: to be surprised is to be dead); subtlety (one cannot battle the storm but one can learn to flow with it, attaining one's goal in a roundabout way); decisiveness (hesitation kills); loyalty (the tribe is only as strong as its weakest member); and that ruthlessness which is only the other side of perfect justice. Aside from anything else, therefore, what Paul learns from the Freman is how to be a survivor, which means, in that environment, a superb fighting and killing machine.

If this were all, of course, the Freman would be no different from the pioneer, battling against nature instead of mediating the human/inhuman interface as the noble savage is conventionally supposed to do. There is, however, a second aspect of Paul's desert experience, again given focus by Freman culture, that is ultimately far more important to him than the martial skills he acquires. In a way that the iconic frontiersman was never quite able to manage, 8 the Freman reconciles the conflict between masculine and feminine modes. He is not only nature's master, in other words, but -- more importantly -- her servant as well. The ultimate goal of the whole Freman culture, in fact, is to transform Arrakis into a paradise, not by wrenching it out of its natural rhythms but by working with those rhythms, influencing the ecological system lovingly, gently, patiently from within. This goal necessitates not only such traditional attributes as a reverence for and a responsiveness to the processes of nature, but an extraordinary breadth and depth of vision capable of encompassing complex and shifting ecological relationships on a planetary scale. "A planet's life is a vast, tightly interwoven fabric. Vegetation and animal changes will be determined at first by the raw physical forces we manipulate. As they establish themselves. . . our changes will become controlling influences in their own right -- and we will have to deal with them, too!" 9 The second level of Paul's desert education, then, is a lesson in the necessity of and means for transcending the egocentric perspective to view (and manipulate) all phenomena systematically, regardless of the context -- an obvious advantage for one who would be a ruler.

Finally, going beyond the specific physical and intellectual insights offered by his primitive mentors, Paul also experiences in the desert environment a kind of spiritual growth that would be impossible anywhere else. In an immediate sense his transformation into a prophet -- the triggering of his paranormal abilities -- seems simply the result of a coincidental and unforeseen reaction, due to a peculiar genetic inheritance, to the drug that the Fremen use in their religious rituals. In a larger sense, however, his birth into awareness is made to appear an intrinsic part of the desert experience as a whole. If this is partly due to our conventional coupling of psi powers with "nature" in the context of SF, it also owes much to Herbert's skilful manipulation of covert cultural associations throughout his book. "The imaginary sands of Dune owe a good deal to the real sands of Arabia," say Robert Scholes, "and somewhere behind this novel stands T. E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, in which Lawrence speculated on the curious propensity of the semitic geography for producing prophets and mystics." 10 The allusion to Lawrence is a critical one, inasmuch as it suggests what is undoubtedly a major element of Herbert's success in making Paul's experience convincing. As Scholes intimates, it is not merely the real, historical desert culture that Dune evokes for us but the mythic desert, the desert we see through the eyes of past visionaries from the Old Testament prophets to Lawrence himself "Lawrence's desert is as far from England as...Grendel's cave from Hrothgar's brightly lit halls," notes Paul Zweig. "The desert is 'elsewhere,' it is the essential elsewhere, and the desert traveller, like the archaic adventurer, is for Lawrence a traveller between the worlds." 11 The Freman, imbued with this legendary stature -- and this mythic capacity -- by the multiple echoes in Herbert's novel, becomes the true mediator between "ego" and "other," making the mystical apotheosis accessible for Paul. By learning his lesson, on the other hand, Paul - both "ego" and "other" - models for the reader what is purported to be an efficacious as well as a morally sound response to the "real " world-at-large.

Whatever else it may achieve on the level of entertainment, then, Dune is first and foremost an almost wholly conventional primitivistic table, embodying a total, distinct, and -- again -- almost wholly conventional world view in which the highest possible value is placed upon "nature" and "naturalness." Which brings us to the real point of this reprise. The very explicitness and reverberance of Dune's conventionality makes it all the more interesting that the film version produced in 1984 not merely diverges from, but actually inverts the moral schema so carefully spelled out by Herbert in his original. The Paul who arrives on Arrakis this time is no novice, but a full-grown and obviously experienced young warlord whose heroism is defined and confirmed simply by birthright. Perfected before the fact, this Paul goes into the desert not to learn, but to teach the primitive Fremen how to do battle in the modern way. This Paul, in other words, is now his own exemplar. And exemplar of what ? Not nature, that's clear. Even leaving aside the issue of his a priori sophistication' I find it both crucial and revealing that the weapon with which this Paul defeats his foes in the end is not the " natural " power of an awakened mind but the imported product of an ultra-advanced science. Having imbued his new followers with a proper sense of aggressiveness - having whipped them into a religious frenzy by the sheer force of his own will - he equips them with a death-dealing ultra-sound device that allows them to mow down their enemies in the most efficient and up-to-date fashion. Unlike Dune-the-book' this story owes a much greater debt to the present-day desert of Shi'ite terrorists and squabbling oil sheiks than it does to the sands of Lawrence's Arabia. The question is, what - if anything - does the departure mean?


Before we attempt an answer, it is perhaps worth a brief detour to consider the more basic question of what kind of phenomenon we are talking about. According to traditional psychological interpretations, such genres as SF and fantasy express an "escapist" impulse. "The romance form," says Patrick Brantlinger, "always shadows forth a regressive journey inward and backward, through childlike states of mind, threatening the dissolution of the adult ego, while the novel form resists and punishes such dissolution, and also invokes higher principles of socialization and adult moral growth.''l2 Scholes denies the imputation of irresponsibility hinted at here, claiming that the sublimative function of literature is just as natural - and as necessary to human health - as is sleeping and dreaming (which in a fashion it resembles). He too, however, relates this function to the attempt to avoid unpleasant realities (sublimative fiction " is connected to our actual existence precisely by offering us relief from its problems and pressures''l3). Other critics talk about reducing tensions by allowing an audience " to explore . . . the boundary between the permitted and the forbidden and to experience in a carefully controlled way the possibility of stepping across [it].''l4 And yet others invoke wish-fulfilment in its simplest forms: SF satisfies our craving for "a science which will mediate between a conviction of the necessity of events - that is, a strict determinism - and a belief in creative freedom." 15 The problem with such explanations is not that they are wrong, but that they leave no room for the possibility that such fictional excursions serve any but a purely private function.

Other approaches, though plugging this particular loophole, suffer from their own peculiar shortcomings. From the socio-political perspective' for instance, the only significant functions of popular culture are the public ones. Those who approve of it (like Leslie Fiedler) speak of ''vitalizing forces"; those who disapprove call it "an instrument of repression', l6 Both groups, however, seem to assume a high degree of consciousness within the producing agencies if not in the minds of individual authors SF in particular is commonly hailed as an ideological tool. Like the muckraker of an earlier era and all the more effectively for his much touted knowledge of scientific advances and sensitivity to trends - the SF writer is now supposed (at least by his supporters) to supply society with trenchant and timely parables capable of effecting attitude, and even behaviour, modification. The prod may be a subtle one (" By the questions asked, by the alternatives displayed for your consideration. . . science fiction represents a metaphor of history and sometimes a preview of reality," says Herbert in his introduction to a 1974 anthology of short storiesl7). Or it may be quite direct (" One hears. . . that Fail Safe caused a re-examination of the safeguards against accidental initiation of nuclear warfare''l8). It can even take the form not of critique, but of inspiration. " Speculative fictions make it possible for us not only to imagine earthly paradises, commercial or visionary, but also to create them, make them work, and live within them," says Donald Lawler. "We may hope that the utility of future histories and of all forms of speculative fiction is to prepare the human imagination for those changes of consciousness which alter experience.''l9 A pleasant thought. The problem is, though -- as with the more negative Marxist pronouncements -- that viewing genre fiction as primarily and intentionally de/con/in-structive is to ignore the fact that much, perhaps most of it is as unselfconscious as a dream.

This does not mean, on the other hand, that it has no public dimension at all. Indeed' the one thing on which critics of all stripes are most likely to agree is that " popular " productions do, as noted above, bear a privileged relationship - whether genetic or reflective - to the collective mental life of a community. Whether public tastes are formed by the media (''television has developed interests that never existed before"20) or the media formed by public tastes (" popular culture is more responsive to its audience than any other form of culture"2l), or whether, as I suspect to be the case, the influence is a dynamic and reciprocal one, the result is the same: as with the symptomology of private neurosis, the manifest products may be considered to document underlying structures and tendencies. Like such symptomology, they may also be considered to have a therapeutic as well as a revelatory function. By this I don't mean merely that they carry "useful" messages or boost morale. Emerging spontaneously from the depths of the collective unconscious, 22 communal fantasies, by their very nature as transitional phenomena, are enabled to mediate (logically or symbolically) various problematic aspects of social existence, deflecting or defusing the frictions generated by those existential problems which are pragmatically insoluble due to ignorance, taboo, the recalcitrance of nature, the mysteries of the human spirit, or the intersystemic incompatibility endemic to human existence. In doing so, moreover, they achieve a social significance far beyond any imputed didactic/manipulative function. Does the claim seem extravagant? "If the cultural shift in contemporary industrial society from the sacred to the secular. . . has produced a de-emphasis in the strength of religious institutions, this should not be interpreted as a loss, but as a transfer of function to secular institutions," says George Lewis. "Thus, the solidarity once produced in the sacred sphere is now more a function of... [popular] culture." 23 If Lewis is right, and I think at least in general terms he is, 24 then it is clear that popular fictions function not as ideology, but as myth.

This identification has some important implications for the study of popular culture. Whatever they may offer their audience, for the observer "myths derive their significance not as much from their formal qualities as from their intrinsic expressive capacity, from the fact that.. . as codes they contain in a simplified yet highly concentrated form not only modes of feeling about, but also modes of perceiving and representing the world as a whole." 25 Read collectively, then, any set of context-specific popular fictions may be expected to yield a paradigmatic (idealized) representation of the communal "mind " by which it has been generated. As with myths' particularly important clues may be derived from an elucidation of "transforms" - that is, positions (roles) whose contents change systematically with changing conditions. 26 In by-definition socially sensitive genres like SF, for instance, the attributes of the hero, being predicated largely, albeit often unconsciously, upon extrinsic factors like normative views of power, authority, free will, and legitimacy27 provide useful "markers" for tracing trends in popular thought. This brings us back to Paul Atreides. It is possible, of course - since we are dealing with an isolated case here - that the change in his characterizing mode of action between the sixties and the eighties is purely idiosyncratic. It is also possible that it may relate in some fashion to the change in medium. If however, we could establish parallels with contiguous fictions in both periods, In a variety of media, then a shift of such magnitude would signal- presage or at least confirm - extremely far-reaching social changes.


It is possible to trace the roots of different aspects of SF back to a whole variety of early satirists and fantasists - Sir Thomas More, Voltaire, Cyrano de Bergerac, Swift, Poe, Lewis Carroll: the list is both long and diverse. In its true modern sense, however, SF developed out of the late Victorian period in Britain, and pre-eminently from the work; of H. G. Wells. For at least two decades after its birth in the mid-twenties, American SF in particular was dominated by that aspect of Wells's vision consensually labelled "technological optimism." Deeply rooted in Enlightenment theories of perfectability, in purely philosophical terms the credo thus designated implied the rationality of both man and the universe. 28 In practice, and particularly in fiction, it seemed more often to entail a view of nature as "an amoral force which man must check if there is to be any human progress." 29 A substantial part of the impulse behind SF, therefore, was simply the desire to demonstrate, following in Wells's footsteps, that technology offered not merely a plausible, but a sole counter to " the slimy white filthiness of a thousand . . . parasitic inventions "30 The result? If he was bearish on reason, the Wellsian romancer "celebrate[d] science and the scientific method with an almost mystic fervor.''31 Until the mid-forties, in fact, both the subject and the object of most SF was the depiction of a futuristic world in which science's purportedly enormous potential had been realized. Even when not treated explicitly' therefore, the high-tech utopia was widely assumed as a standard setting and donnée, regardless of the individual plot.

This phase did not long outlive the maturation of the genre, under the influence of John W. Campbell, long-time editor of Astounding Stories, from "boys' books" to an adult literature of "ideas." 32 In the aftermath of the war, and particularly in the shadow of Hiroshima, a growing disenchantment with scientific advancement came increasingly to diminish the glitter of Wells's technological paradise. The result, as has been amply documented in numerous histories and critical studies, 33 was increasingly to turn the energies of SF writers from celebrations of progress to cautionary fables of technology running wild. In the decades between 1950 and 1970, the focus of these fables shifted from atomsmash and mad machine motifs to social dystopias in the style of Huxley and Orwell and thence to ecological disaster stories. The common denominator to the entire body, however, was the implication that civilization brought not " improvement " but death - of the spirit if not of the world. It was in the context of these fears that the American wish-fulfilling dream reverted to an earlier, though no less apocalyptic vision of paradise regained. Here, of course, is where our lead example comes in. At its most facile the new primitivism triggered a flood of space-pioneer and day-after-disaster Edenic fantasies. It also, however, inspired at least a few serious attempts, like Dune and Stranger in a Strange Land and the Earthsea trilogy, to explore and define the mode of action -- the brand of heroism -- appropriate to an "alternative" culture. The concern found echoes in mainstream writing as well. Utterly rejecting "an emotional commitment to growth through urban industrialization," the American writer "now ask[ed1 his fellow citizens to protect their sacred individualities against invasions of privacy pressures of conformity, and lures of consumerism. . . to be cool, open, and undemanding...[to give] access to new patterns and values"34 -- to be acquiescent rather than interventionist. This is an exact secular equivalent to the values Herbert embodies in Paul Atreides.

It is ironic and also somewhat sad, given the great expectations of the sixties counter-cultists, that the new optimism proved just as fragile as its Victorian forebear. It was based on a lie. Far from redeeming a raped landscape and a tainted past, the directness and intensity of the confrontation with nature demanded by this most recent revival of primitivism served only to revive as well the problems - the mixed feelings, the clash of values - that such a confrontation has always entailed for the American. 35 Much of the best SF writing of the early seventies - Ursula Leguin's The Word for World is Forest, Gene Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Michael Bishop's "Death and Designation among the Asadi," to give only a few examples -- was hence dedicated to exposing the ambiguities that lurked at the heart of the primitivist fantasy. Even the Freman came retrospectively to seem less phenomenon than fraud. His transcendence of history, his apparently successful reconciliation of conquest and morality, only works aesthetically because the action is raised to a mythical level by Herbert's superaddition of an explicitly religious dimension. 36 The new noble savage was neither philosophically nor psychologically plausible -- not in the "real" world, anyway. More to the point, once his myth was exploded he was not a particularly comfortable ego image to live with.

The problem, ironically was that same "freedom" that made him attractive in the first place. Especially in the context of the technological dystopia, the demand for self-responsibility placed an incredible burden on the individual actor. As typical of the sixties as Dune was Philip K. Dick's Ubik, a book in which, reality having broken up "into a series of sometimes grotesque and sometimes frightful illusions . . . only the exceptional force of character of the protagonist and his allies permit[ted] them to ward off chaos." 37 At the same time the conventions of primitivism insisted that this protagonist must be sensitive, trusting, sincere -- vulnerable. It was this last, one suspects, that added the final straw to the camel's back. After Vietnam and Watergate, the view from the seventies was of "a world given over to Chance, to unmanageable changes in the human condition. . . a world of forces that, if not perverse from some malign agency, become perverse through their out-of-proportion effects." 38 In such circumstances the idea of acquiescence, of "going with the flow," comes to seem much less saintly than suicidal. Which is why, after a short burgeoning and an even shorter blossoming, the sixties pastoral idyll went the way of all utopias. The result? By mid-decade much of the same readership and even many of the same writers responsible for the popularity of "ecology SF" during the sixties, their disillusionment compounded with anxiety, turned away from the traditional concerns of the genre to simpler species of illusion. Judging by the selections available in the book stores, not only did the fantasy genre so-defined come to rival and even overtake "straight" SF during the last decade, but SF itself -- dominated increasingly by "soft" modes emphasizing adventure over ideation - gave increasingly free reign to its own fantasy component. This marked a significant change in the public mood.

The question arises, of course: why this particular shift? Leaving aside the specific issue of primitivism, Alexei and Cory Panshin would claim that SF as a whole was too repressive. In the Wellsian romance, they say, the "Golden Age of the past is replaced by a vision of future perfection. Spirits become alien beings. Magic is replaced by science-beyond-science. Sorcerers become scientists." Unfortunately, whatever novelty the fable gains by means of these transformations is more than offset by a loss of profundity:

[T]he symbolic vocabulary of the new not as sensitive and flexible as the old vocabulary of fantasy was. Magic has subtleties that super-scientific power or even psi-power do not have. Sorcerers have moral overtones that scientists do not have. There is a dimension in Faust that cannot be duplicated in the symbols available in Frankenstein." 39

The appeal of fantasy -- the reason why it attracted so many erstwhile SF fans during the seventies -- was thus, according to the Panshins, quite simply its capacity for "consciousness-expanding." Raymond Olderman would seem to agree. Fantasy, he says in his discussion of Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn, conveys the sense of wonder essential to joyful existence' the main message of the allegory is that "there is magic in being human." 40

Fantasy can, and of course often does, operate in this way, but there is some indication with respect at least to the seventies that both of these optimistic assessments are somewhat wide of the mark Olderman and, to a large extent, the Panshins too are talking here about the forerunners of the real seventies fantasy revival: works that seemed specifically to grow out of and express the hopeful romanticism of the sixties. "The rediscovery of wonder in the world may ultimately be the best our decade can offer as a substitute for a truly accepted mythology to move us out of the waste land," says the former, making this connection explicit. "The sixties seem ripe for such a rediscovery; Tolkien has been gobbled up with a great deal of enthusiasm, and the atmosphere of the late sixties in particular is filled with 'flower children' and lectures on the false values that lead us to exist without wonder.''41 Considering how ephemeral were the movements to which Olderman refers here, one must obviously take his inferences about their effects with a grain of salt. Indeed, if we review the phenomenon in the light of both concurrent and subsequent developments in SF, it seems highly likely that it was less the liberating, mind-expanding, wonder-inducing potential of fantasy that made it so popular in the seventies than that very feature the Panshins imputed to SF: the restrictiveness of the mode.

Scholes hints at such an interpretation when he points out that " A world in which values are clear (with heroes and heroines, villains and villainnesses), and action is fast and furious, has extraordinary appeal for people enmeshed in lives of muddled complexity." 42 A world in which values are clear: this is the key phrase. As the SF vision became more complex and ambiguous -- as American society itself became more complex and ambiguous -- the sixties people, those erstwhile touters of "flower power" and a brave new world, began increasingly to look to literature not for enlightenment but for escape. Hence the turn to forms of fantasy, anti in particular the heroic romance. As Paul Zweig explains it: clearly a form of "experiential transcendence." In the midst of action, each move is dense with the weight of a lifetime, and is a lifetime, blazing with momentary intensity. Action fuses the moment into a separate whole. its parts powerfully compressed and interrelated, as in a dream. It is no surprise, therefore, that... [there] has been...a renewed fascination with adventure. The declining popularity of detective novels among the young is one evidence for the change. Whereas an older generation found its pleasure in the proposition that mysteries are puzzles which can be solved by "ratiocination," the young today show a marked preference for. . . versions of romance, in which the mysteries exist not to be explained, but to be vanquished. 43

Fantasy, in other words, is appealing not because it offers new possibilities or even new answers, but because it creates the illusion of a world where both the problems and the solutions are of the clear-cut, uncomplicated, and old-fashioned kind that can be comprehended without either moral confusion or emotional ambivalence. "There is no hint of existential darkness in Odysseus' plight," Zweig points out: " he is simply a man with enemies." 44 An enemy without is much easier to combat than an enemy within.

It is not merely the relative straightforwardness of the fictional situation that makes fantasy attractive in such a situation, either. The very forms in which it tends to find expression - derivative, formal, familiar - allow the illusion of confrontation while all the time reassuring us that the risk is strictly controlled. Literary formulas, as John Cawelti points out:

are at once highly ordered and conventional and yet are permeated with the symbols of danger, uncertainty, violence, and sex. In reading or viewing a formulaic work, we confront the ultimate excitements of love and death, but in such a way that our basic sense of security and order is intensified rather than disrupted, because, first of all, we know that this is an imaginary rather than a real experience, and second, because the excitement and uncertainty are ultimately controlled and limited by the familiar world of the formulaic structure. 45

Fantasy can consequently indulge both the anarchic dream of freedom and personal power which is necessary to provide a relief from the feelings of impotence and oppression engendered by the modern setting and -- what was perhaps more important in the seventies -- the desire for an assurance of ultimate order and meaning spawned by moral uncertainty. Regardless of its specific plot, in other words, fantasy, simply by association, tends to express covertly what Lois and Stephen Rose call the Deuteronomic view of history: "There is a standard of virtue; a Force acts to reward those who abide by the standard and to condemn those who violate it...Good men win; bad men lose." 46

The ego ideal implied by such a broadly deterministic and strikingly Manichaean universe is obviously going to be quite different from the young questor-after-enlightenment envisaged by Herbert. Particularly popular in the United States during the seventies was the "barbaric" hero invented by Robert F. Howard almost half a century earlier. In marked contradistinction to the aristocratic personae of European-style fantasy this typos is renowned much less for his mind than for his muscles. 47 By the end of the seventies, in fact, one could almost say that the Incredible Hulk -- once viewed as a shameful and frightening relic of man's bestial past -- had emerged from the closet to become the new American champion. It was a problematic apotheosis, to be sure. At best the parvenu was Superman, moral as well as mighty simply by definition. At worst and; more often he was Conan, a creature one might trust to win but very little more. The point was, though, that he could be trusted to win. Why was this so important? Depressed and demoralized by face-loss abroad and economic insecurity at home, by the mid-seventies ordinary Americans were desperately seeking assurances that their country was still great, still capable of vanquishing, on their behalf as it were, that age-old evil which m the modern world seemed to assume so many strange and impenetrable disguises. Armed not merely with strength but, more important, with an unshakeable moral certainty that freed him to act even in the face of faceless danger, the Conan type was thus less model than messiah. This unfortunately, was not only his greatest appeal, but also his greatest flaw.

The thing is, once the hero becomes absolutely powerful he also becomes absolutely "other." And this presents a problem. Two problems, m fact. For one thing, even in his most beneficent guise he can now no longer be trusted to empathize with human needs and human feelings. (It is interesting that the same period that made the film version of Superman, a blockbuster hit, also - in both pulp fiction and popular movies - saw a significant revival of the gothic mode, with its hints of gods gone bad, its aura of objectless anxiety.) For another thing, and ultimately more important, as "other" he is no longer accessible to vicarious identification. Insecurities notwithstanding, the seventies American did not like to have his nose rubbed in the fact that he was unfit, by virtue of his ineradicable normalcy, for anything but sitting on the sidelines. At the same time, he was far from ready to go back to the pale gratifications of sixties-style moral victories. So how did he resolve his dilemma? By the obvious if somewhat ironic tack of democratizing, diminishing, and modernizing the very hero whom he invented in the first place to deliver him from then pettiness of democracy and the dehumanizing effects of modern technology. With this we enter both a new phase and a new decade. Not to mention catching up with Paul Atriedes, mark II.

The domestication of the barbaric hero was more than simply a matter of label changing, of course. In the first place, in order to be made more "ordinary" his superhuman powers -- whether different in kind or, like Conan's, only in degree from those of the man in the street -- had to be replaced with something just as effective but considerably more portable. Weapons, in other words. But super-weapons imply super-science. And super-science implies state or at least corporate support. This changes the whole nature of the game. Where the barbarian is a lone wolf with at most a few loyal supporters, establishment-sponsored violence is not adventure but militarism. Which brings us, one would think, to something of an impasse. Don't forget that America is still in the grip of the dystopic vision at this point. The vanquishment of the New Left by the New Right really didn't change that aspect of the public mood in any essential way. If anything, Conan -- along with his "real life" equivalents, the vigilante-heroes of the Moral Majority48 -- was implicitly more anti-progressive than even the most committed of the hippies. The persistence of this element, when so much else was left by the wayside, was not really as surprising as it may at first sound. Disregarding the ends it may be used to serve in given cases, dystopianism as a general stance is neither partisan nor even particularly political. Among the clockwork worlds that have been fantasized by the hundreds over the last few decades, as Lyman Sargent points out, it is "important to note that no single type, Communist, capitalist, fascist, or scientific, seems to predominate." There are, however, he hastens to add, "two important exceptions" - two phenomena that everybody loves to hate: "the military and the machine." 49 If domesticating the barbarian depended on the normalization of these, it is hard to see how it could be accomplished. This, however, is to underestimate the omnivorousness of the popular imagination. In fact, if we examine the evidence of popular culture over the last five years, it seems clear that both the machine and the military have been redeemed.

How did this happen? Gradually and subtly, to be sure. In the case of the military, for instance, the grounds for rehabilitation of the institution were first laid by a rehabilitation of the appropriate attitudes. Given the uncertainties of the seventies, and given also the covert threat represented by the superhero, there was already a widespread propensity among Americans for a displacement of moral responsibility onto external agencies. By the last quarter of the decade the father-figure - whether in real life (Ronald Reagan) or in fantasy (the godlike alien of Close Encounters of the Third Kind) - had become a symbol not of oppression, but of reassurance. From the legitimization of figureheads, it was only a small step to a legitimization of such abstract authorities as the Nation or the Law. It is hardly a coincidence that so many television adventurers of the last few years, far from being outsiders like James Rockford or Kwai Chang Caine, have been (1) team players, often with domestic or at least "fraternal" ties (Simon and Simon, Riptide, The A-Team); (2) members or friends of members of the corporate elite (Matt Houston, Remington Steele, Magnum P.I.); and/or (3) employees or associates of real or fictional law-enforcement or intelligence-gathering agencies (Knight Rider, Air Wolf, Scarecrow' and Mrs. King, MacGyver, Adderly, among others). Far from being suspect, then, official sanction would recently seem to have become a virtual donnée in this particular genre.

We see the same transition even more strikingly in the changing style of "cop shows" throughout the seventies. Uniforms were rarely seen in the early years of the decade. Even when technically fully institutionalized, policemen-heroes tended to be individualistic loners like Kojak. More critically, many were not obviously institutionalized at all, being dissociated from their parent organizations to the point of being explicitly at odds with them (The Mod Squad, Baretta). Ten years later, all this had changed. Uniforms-the badge of "belonging" - had become "sexy" again (CHIPs, T. J. Hooker, MacGruder and Loud). Even in those shows -- like Hill Street Blues and Cagney and Lacey - noted for their "realism," the identification of the protagonists with their official roles as part of a paramilitary body, though not always entirely positive, was entirely normative.

It's easy to see how such a development would facilitate the repopularizing of the soldier type, of course. And it did. Take the Vietnam vet, for instance. During the seventies, as Lisa Heilbronn points out, military service was most often invoked "to explain the sociopathic or homicidal behavior of a criminal." 50 By the mid-eighties, in contrast, it had become a well-nigh requisite stock-in-trade for both "official" and "lay" adventurers. This didn't, on the other hand, necessarily mean that the armed forces themselves had been redeemed. As Heilbronn points out, the few early-eighties shows that focused directly on life in the service -- like Emerald Point N.A.S. or For Love and Honor -- failed conspicuously to catch on. 51 What was redeemed during this period was the idea that war is a good training ground. In such series as Magnum P.I., The A-Team, Riptide, and Air Wolf, the military background of the heroes was exactly that: a background. It was nevertheless made clear that it was a background about which they felt positive and from which they derived a large part of their characterizing skills and values. More significant, it was also a background that was highlighted more and more as time went on. Flashbacks played an increasingly large part in Magnum toward mid-decade, while in a 1985-86 production called Cover-Up the opening sequence showcased the male protagonist as soldier, both in uniform and in action, with a female voice-over singing about the need for old-fashioned heroes. Even without the evidence of hindsight -- and here one might cite particularly the shift of emphasis in recent American war movies from the rabid individualism of Rambo to the team-spirit of Top Gun -- it was clear from such developments that by the mid-eighties even the military qua institution was well on its way to being respectable again.

The rehabilitation of technology was achieved concomitantly and by exactly the same kind of strategy. Interestingly, there has been little public recognition that any significant shift of attitudes has taken place in this area at all. During the sixties it became a standard item of popular wisdom that technology dehumanizes by necessity ("technique transforms everything it touches into a machine," says Jacques Ellul52; "With this new 'megatechnics' . . . man will become a passive, purposeless, machine-conditioned animal," echoes Lewis Mumford53), and judging by a 1980 special issue of Alternative Futures on "Technology and Pessimism" the seventies did little to change this assumption. If the scientific establishment is in fact perceived to be doing very well under the auspices of Reagan's technophilia, the perception seems only to stimulate a greater concern about what the pernicious trend is doing to our souls. 54 If one pays attention not to the "experts" but to more spontaneous kinds of indicator, however, the continued jeremiad seems increasingly inappropriate, at least insofar as it purports to reflect "popular" opinion.

Certainly our television alter egos don't seem to have any qualms about using the full resources of science. Especially in genres of the private eye or government agent, it is now commonplace for the hero to have some kind of high-tech adjunct on which not merely his success but his identity depends. In Air Wolf it was a computerized helicopter, in Street Hawk a computerized motorcycle, in Knight Rider a computerized car. How did this come about, we might wonder. What happened to the Kung Fu hero with his homely exterior and personalized powers? The key lies in the packaging. More and more in contemporary television programmes, technology is being humanized. Michael Knight's car was not just smart, but had a personality, a sense of humour, even feelings that could be hurt. Jessie Mach's motor cycle was linked with/animated by his partner/alter ego, the wimpish scientist-in-the closet, Norman. In Riptide we were given a cute ambulatory robot named explicitly after his daddy-creator, Ro-Boz, while in a deservedly short-lived show of a few years ago called Automan the superhero himself was a holographic image extruded by a computer. Bizarre as they may seem to anyone versed in the real limitations of cybernetics, such phenomena provide important evidence about what the eighties American wants to believe. They also provide a tacit answer to Joseph Slade's complaint that American technophobia has historically issued from a failure to recognize "that machines are created in man's image." 55 While it may do little to elucidate "the more basic question of man's relationship to his inventions" about which Slade is primarily concerned, the strategy of anthropomorphism does at least help to reduce the "metaphorical difficulties" which, implicit in earlier literature, were made explicit during the primitivistic sixties. 56 If the machine is in fact an image of man, then there is no need any longer to fear becoming machine-like. From this point of view, the six-million-dollar cyborg -- the hero who owed his potency to a literal dehumanization -- was simply an early warning signal of a critical and general shift in public mood: a shift with Max Headroom as its end product.

Judging by the popular imagination, then, technology was on its way to redemption well before the end of the seventies. Even more than the rehabilitation of the soldier, this fact has had significant ramifications for American culture. How? Well, for one thing, hard core SF is back in fashion again. More to the point, so are the attitudes that go along with it. In a 1979 anthology edited by Jerry Pournelle and aptly named The Endless Frontier, space pioneers, abandoning the stereotypical sixties quest for a new untouched garden planet where they would recapture the wisdom and innocence of a prelapserian Eden, now work to build their own environments, totally artificial machine-cities hollowed out of lifeless asteroids or floating free in space. Pournelle's selection is far from anomalous. The same faith in and excitement about the wonders of science can be detected in book after book, movie after movie, produced during the last half-dozen years. As Lemieux puts it, "SF is now technology's 'chanson de geste.'"57 There is only one plausible explanation for such a development. Somewhere along the line -- somewhere in the process of rehabilitating the barbarian -- Americans have shifted right back to technological optimism once more.


It seems obvious from the foregoing overview that what we are confronting in the revised version of Dune is something a little more basic than simply a director's whim. Even leaving aside the difference in Paul Atreides, one might have inferred a paradigm shift simply from the extent to which the socio-historical "background" to the film departs not only from the original novel but from the entire oeuvre from which it emerged. As hinted earlier in the discussion, since the war some of the most persistent conventions in SF have derived from the idea that the most attractive if not the most plausible model for far-future society is a medieval one. The "space opera tradition, socially regressive though it was, seems downright enlightened by comparison with the antiquated political forms typical of more recent interstellar fiction," said Paul Carter in 1977. 58 "Writers -- even very good writers -- have seemed unable to conceive of galactic society except in terms of absolutism and/or feudalism." They also seem to have been unable to conceive of the feudal political structure apart from the archaic social trappings. In such a universe, Carter continues, "starships and lasers do have their place," but on worlds like Arrakis it is equally important "to be able to strum a nine-Stringed baliset and swing a sword." At least part of the impetus behind this rather peculiar trend was related to the lingering influence of nineteenth-century medievalism. Entering the American arena originally by way of imported British fantasy, the feudal future proved uniquely appealing to an increasingly anomic audience for its ability to accommodate (at least imaginatively) both social stability and individual heroism. Insofar as it was linked as well with literary primitivism, it also helped obscure the ambiguities of the sixties world view by replacing a problematic form of nostalgia rooted in American history with a safer though equally gratifying vision of pastoral felicity drawn from someone else's past. It was this element of normalized duplicity in its collateral associations that enabled Dune-the-novel to speak with such notable success, not merely to, but from its audience. It is interesting, therefore, that it is those areas bearing on indirect signification that have suffered the most complete revision in the eighties version. Far from medieval, Dune-the-movie is in both its visual and its narrative style clearly based on a Victorian model. The sets in this film - the architecture and machinery - are right out of Jules Verne while the costumes seem to have been borrowed from The Student Prince.

What are we to make of such a radical change in ambience? Insofar as they are both backward-looking, both conventions, medievalism and Victorianism alike, are essentially conservative. In terms of their psychosymbology, however, the contrasts between them are far greater than any similarities we might detect. Even apart from the specific issue of technology (and with regard to this we must remember that it was the Middle Ages that provided technophobic nineteenth-century writers and artists like Ruskin and the pre-Raphaelites with their normative image of community), the life-modes implicit in these two terms are almost diametrically opposed. Overt within the two Dunes, for instance, we have the polarities of inner-direction and other-direction, achievement and ascription, accommodation and intervention, primitivism and progressivism. Behind these obvious contrasts, moreover, each model also carries with it a whole host of implied values and assumptions which can be summarized, though hardly exhausted, under the general categories of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. At the very least, then, it would seem clear that since 1965 there has been a significant change in what a writer/filmmaker might take for granted about his audience's expectations vis-à-vis plot, character, theme, and so forth. It's the inferences we can make about these expectations, of course - not just the delineation of given departures from convention - that make the Dune/Dune comparison such an instructive one.

But this is what "reading" culture is all about: reconstructing the invisible social presence that both underlies and informs the individual artifact. Consider the case in hand. It may be a bit early to be classifying an "era" - and certainly it's far too early to be applying any reductionist labels - but taken as a jumping off point that Victorian motif in itself may just possibly provide some useful insights into what it is that links such diverse contemporary phenomena as burgeoning evangelism, the Computer craze, public fascination with the rich and the royal, a renewed sense of national mission, and a return to basics in education. Obsessed with morality, "improvement," and technology, says Daniel Howe, the Victorians aggressively "pursued order not only in society and the individual but also in the universe around them." 59 It is worth remembering in this connection, as Leo Ribuffo points out in a recent critical anthology on contemporary America, that President Reagan in January 1983 hailed "the flowering of the man-made miracle of high technology" as the universal panacaea for all America's ills. 60 Despite the current vociferousness of the peace movement, despite the ongoing debate over the environment, despite such pronouncements as Wilson McWilliam's that "In 1980 the engine of progress, sputtering for a long time, finally broke down,''61 despite the fact, too, that Christopher Lasch is still talking about America's loss of "selfhood," 62 the covert messages of culture clearly suggest that the pessimists are out of step with the public mood.


[This article appeared in Journal of American Studies> Volume 21 Number 3, December 1987, pp. 387-409; published by Cambridge University Press for the British Association for American Studies]

Gaile McGregor is [or was] a Post Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at York University, 4700 Keele St., Downsview463, Ontario, Canada M3J IP3. For its analysis of trends in science fiction, this paper draws upon Gaile McGregor, The Noble Savage in the New World Garden: Notes toward a Syntactics of Place (Bowling Green: The Popular Press, forthcoming).

1.Politics as Symbolic Action (Chicago: Markham, 1971), 6.

2.Ibid., 41.

3."The Rhetoric of the American Western Myth," Communication Monographs, 50 (1983), 14.

4."Archetypal Alloy: Reagan's Rhetorical Image," in Ray B. Browne and Marshall W. Fishwick, eds., The Hero in Transition (Bowling Green: The Popular Press, 1983), 267.

5."Structuralism and Popluar Culture," Journal of Popular Culture, 7 (1974), 761.

6."The Myth of Superman," in The Role of the Reader (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979), 123.

7.Introduction to "Machines, Myths, and Marxism," in Teresa de Lauretis, Andreas Huyssen, and Kathleen Woodward, eds., The Technological Imagination: Theories and Fictions (Madison: Coda Press, 1980), 80.

8.See Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth (New York: Vintage, 1950); also Richard Slotkin, Regeneration through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860 (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973).

9.Frank Herbert, Dune (New York: Berkley, 1965), 284.

10.Structual Fabulation: An Essay on Fiction of the Future (Notre Dame and London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975), 68.

11.The Adventurer (New York: Basic Books, 1974), 234.

12."Romances, Novels, and Psychonalysis," Criticism, 17 (1975), 21.

13.Structural Fabulation, 5.

14.John Cawelti, Adventure, Mystery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1976), 35.

15.John Huntington, "Science Fiction and the Future," in Mark Rose, ed., Science Fiction: A collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1976), 159.

16.For representative views see T. W. Adorno, "Television and the Patterns of Mass Culture," in Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White, eds., Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America (New York: The Free Press, 1957), 474-88, and Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man The Ideological Imagination (London: Heinemann, 1973), and Andreas Huyssen in de Lauretis et al.

17.Roger Elwood and Virginia Kidd, eds., The Wounded Planet (New York: Bantam, 1974), ix.

18.Robert H. Walker, "Patterns in Recent American Literature," in John A. Hague, ed., American Character and Culture in a Changing World: Some Twentieth-Century Perspectives (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1979), 69.

19."Certain Assistances: The Utilities of Speculative Fictions in Shaping the Future," Mosaic, 13 (1980), 10.

20.Rolf B. Meyersohn, "Social Research in Television," in Rosenberg and White, 353.

21.Roger R. Rollin, "The Lone Ranger and Lenny Stutnik: The Hero as Popular Culture," in Browne and Fishwick, 25.

22.See Leslie A. Fiedler, "The Middle Against Both Ends," in Rosenberg and White, 537-47.

23."Between Consciousness and Existance: Popluar Culture and the Sociological Imagination," Journal of Popular Culture, 15 (1982), 86.

24.See also Roger Rollin, 42-44.

25.Zev Barbe, "Popular Culture: A Sociological Approach," in Bigsby, 48-49.

26.Claude Levi-Strauss, "The Story of Asdiwal," in Edmund Leach, ed., The Structural Study of Myth and Totemism (London: Tavistock, 1968), 49-70.

27.RogerRollin, 39.

28.See Stanley Wymer, "Perception and Value in Science Fiction,:" in Thomas Clareson, ed., Many Future, Many Worlds: Theme and Form in Science Fiction (Kent State University Press, 1977), 1-13.

29.Mark Hillegas, The Futureasnmightmare: H. G, Wells and the Anti-Utopians (Carbonville and Edwardville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967), 59.

30.H. G. Wells, Men Like Gods (Toronto: Macmillan, 1923), 107.

31.Thomas Clareson, Many Future, Many Worlds, 17.

32.Issac Asimov, "Social Science Fiction," in Damon Knight, ed., Turning Points: Essays on the Art of Science Fiction (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), especially 39-43.

33.For specific references, see the annotated bibliography in Richard Erlich and Thomas Dunn, eds., Clockwork Worlds: Mechanized Environments in SF (Westport , CT: Greenwood, 1983) 263ff.

34.Walker, "Patterns in Recent American Fiction," 78.

35.See, for instance, Annette Kolodny, The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975).

36.See Scholes, Structural Fabulation, 81-82.

37.Jacques Lemieux, "Utopias and Social Relations in American Science Fiction," trans. Richard Rosenthal, SF Studies, 12 (1985), 152.

38/William Nelson, "Unlikely Heroes: The Central Figures in The Worl According to Garp, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and A Confederacy of Dunces," in Browne and Fishwick, 170.

39."Science Fiction, new Trends and Old," in Richard Bretnor, ed., Science Fiction, Today and Tomorrow (Baltimore: Penguin, 1974), 222.

40.Beyond the Wasteland: A Study of the American Novel in the Nineteen-Sixties (New Haven & New York: Yale University Press), 223.

41.Ibid., 222.

42."As the Wall Crumbles," in James Gunn, ed., Nebula Award Stories Ten (Notre Dame & London: University of Notre dame Press), 102.

43.The Adventurer, 249.

44.Ibid., 20.

45.Adventure, Mystery, and Romance, 16.

46.The Shattered Ring (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1970), 51.

47.See Poul Anderson, "The Art of Robert Erving Howard," in L. Sprague de Camp, ed., The Blade of Conan (New York: Ace, 1979), 79-96.

48.See Gary Hoppenstand, "Pulp Vigilante Heroes, the Moral Majority, and the Apocalypse," in Browne and Fishwick, 148-49.

49."Eutopias and Dystopias in Science Fiction, 1950-75," in Kenneth Roehmer, ed., America as Utopia (New York: Burt Franlin, 1981), 349.

50."ComingHome a Hero: the Changing Image of the Vietnam Vet on Prime Time Television," Journal of Popular Film and Television, 13 (1985), 25.

51.Ibid., 29.

52.The Technological Society, trans. John Wilkinson (New York: Knopf, 1967), 4.

53.The Myth fo the Machine, Vol. 1, Technics and Human Development (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1966), 3.

54.See, for instance, Daniel W. Ingersoll, Jr., "Machines Are Good to Think: A Structural Analysis of Myth and Mechanization," in Erlich and Dunn, 235-262.

55.Joseph W. Slade, "American Writers and American Inventions: Cybernetic Discontinuity in Pre-World War II Literature," in de Lauretis, Huyssen and Woodward, 28.

56.Ibid., 46.

57."Utopias and Social Relations," 153.

58.The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Science Fiction (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977), 82-82.

59."American Victorianism as a Culture," American Quarterly, 27 (1975), 522.

60.Leo Ribuffo, ed., American Quarterly (special issue on contemporary America), 35 (1983), 9.

61."Politics," in Ribuffo, 29.

62."1984: Are We There?," Salmagundi, 65 (1984), 51-62.