• Elisabeth Meyer Christensen
4. term, English, Master (Master Programme)
This study explores the effect and function of loneliness in science fiction through the works of: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) by Philip K. Dick, “Supertoys Last all Summer Long” (1969) by Brian Aldiss, and Klara and the Sun (2021) by Kazou Ishiguro. The subject of loneliness will be considered through the lens of Sara Ahmed’s emotion theory as it is described in her book The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2014). The paper will also include relevant theory on androids and transhumanism just as it will define loneliness in order of categorizing characters accurately as lonely. From this framework the analysis will be divided into three chapters to focus on one text at the time. In all analyses loneliness will be regarded as lack of emotion circulation which is theorized from Ahmed’s emotion theory since she does not account for loneliness. Thereby the theory will be used in a more general sense. The analysis on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Will examine how loneliness sticks to people from empty settings and how it moves between people. The analysis will also focus on how hierarchies, emotion cultures, and the dissolving borders between human and machine contribute to feelings of loneliness. The second analysis regards the short story “Supertoys Last all Summer Long” and examines themes of time, beauty, and artificiality and how they contribute to loneliness. The last analysis on Klara and the Sun explores loneliness through obsoletion, emotional outsourcing, rejection, and love. These analyses lead to a discussion that compares the three works while also discussing if it is always bad to be alone. The thesis shows that loneliness is complex and attaches itself to people in a myriad of ways. In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the primary ways for loneliness to ‘stick’ to people is from empty settings wherefrom it spreads among people and through androids who function as voids for emotions to be sucked into. In “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” it is inhabitant’s obsession with outwards appearance which turns people into ‘non-stick’ surfaces and renders it impossible for them to circulate emotions to each other. In Klara and the Sun all humans are potentially lonely from the obsoletion culture which renders individuals non-special, but children are also lonely from the unequal relationships between Artificial Friends and their owners that are marked by simulated and insufficient circulation of affect. Conclusively, this paper cannot make any large claims about loneliness in science fiction in general, but it can still make conclusions on selected works, and it may be a steppingstone for others to do further research.
Publication date31 May 2023
Number of pages79
ID: 532371969