Photo: João Paulo Serafim

Ecocritical Approach toward Ustopias: Divergent Attitudes towards Scientific Advancement in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun and Emily Mandel’s Station Eleven

Midia Mohammadi

University of Tehran

Abstract | Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (2021) shows the world from a high-tech Artificial Friend’s perspective who discovers the miraculous nature of the sun and fights the pollution caused by technological advancements. In a contrasting manner, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014) is set twenty years after the breakout of the lethal “Georgia flu” and narrates the miseries of humankind in a clean world where the sun and stars can be seen more vividly than ever, but technological advancement and medicine have become elements of the past. While both novels are set in dystopian futures where humanity is threatened, their depicted dystopias are radically different. Their approaches towards technological advancements radically differ; however, the premonitions they carry, which are the collapse of humankind and irreversibly environmental damage in the future, is the same. Both works belonging to the genre of “ustopia,” a word coined by Margaret Atwood, express anxiety and hope in their subtle idiosyncratic ways despite their divergent attitudes towards science and technology. This study aims to read these two novels comparatively from an ecocritical perspective and draw on psychoanalysis to illuminate the root of the expressed anxiety in these works. Moreover, the article shows how modern ustopias embrace hope for humankind’s survival in times of crisis and delineate how it could be preserved by drawing on these two novels. In the end, the paper points out the ostensibly different ways of damage control proposed by ustopias that would keep humankind and humanity alive even in a post-apocalyptic world.

Keywords | Ustopia; pandemic literature; technology; social engineering; science fiction.