A frequent trope in apocalyptic literature is a war between time and knowledge. Focusing on Rita Indiana’s “cli-fi” novel La mucama de Omicunlé (Omicunlé’s Maid), this essay explores the ambiguous role that uncertainty plays in apocalyptic literature. It argues that time travel seeks to revert the result of negative actions in the past, eliminating uncertainty retrospectively. And yet moral freedom, the mark of the human, requires uncertainty to function, which thwarts time travel as a messianic genre. Yet even in failure, time travel reminds us that impending disaster is contingent on specific individual and collective action, suggesting that the future could still perhaps be otherwise.
Science Fiction and the Rules of Uncertainty
Guillermina De Ferrari is professor of Caribbean literature and visual culture at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of Vulnerable States: Bodies of Memory in Contemporary Caribbean Fiction (2007), Community and Culture in Post-Soviet Cuba (2014), and Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today (2015), and a coeditor of the Routledge series Literature and Contemporary Thought. She is a Senior Fellow with the Institute of Research in the Humanities.
Guillermina De Ferrari; Science Fiction and the Rules of Uncertainty. Small Axe 1 March 2020; 24 (1 (61)): 1–10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-8190502
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