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Hot Equations - Science, Fantasy, and the Radical Imagination on a Troubled Planet

Hot Equations

Science, Fantasy, and the Radical Imagination on a Troubled Planet

By Jesse S. Cohn
Hardcover : 9781496850157, 364 pages, 7 b&w illustrations, April 2024
Paperback : 9781496850164, 364 pages, 7 b&w illustrations, April 2024

Table of contents

Part I: Escape from the Great Sorting Machine
1. Predictive Analytics for Monstrous Times
2. Sublime Machines: Valves of the Heart
3. Methodological Metafetishism
4. Unbarring the Other
Part II: The Fantastic within and Beyond Modernity
5. Notes toward a Rhetoric of the Fantastic
6. Rhetorics of the Impossible
7. Rhetorical Sovereignty
Part III: Toward a Multiplicative Realism
8. The Rhetoric of Fictive Science, Or: The Academy of Outrageous Books
9. How the Gordin Brothers Escaped Western Gravity
Part IV: Fantastic Politics in an Imperiled Pluriverse
10. Unicorn Rhetoric
11. The Fantastic from Counterpublic to Public Imaginary
12. Acting Supernaturally (With Notes on the Monster of Anarchy)
Appendix: A Provisional Manifesto for Nonmodern Anarchisms

How contemporary science fiction, fantasy, and horror indicate a way forward in change and crisis


Inspired by the new diversity of science fiction, fantasy, and horror in the twenty-first century, Hot Equations: Science, Fantasy, and the Radical Imagination on a Troubled Planet confronts the kinds of literary and political “realism” that continue to suppress the radical imagination. Alluding both to the ongoing climate catastrophe and to Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations”—that famous touchstone of “hard science fiction”—Hot Equations reads the crises of our "post-normal" moment via works that increasingly subvert genre containment and spill out into the public sphere.

Drawing on archives and contemporary theory, author Jesse S. Cohn argues that these imaginative works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror strike at the very foundations of modernity, calling its basic assumptions into question. They threaten the modern order with a simultaneously terrible and promising anarchy, pointing to ways beyond the present medical, ecological, and political crises of pandemic, climate change, and rising global fascism. Examining books ranging from well-known titles like The Hunger Games and The Caves of Steel to newer works such as Under the Pendulum Sun and The Stone Sky, Cohn investigates the ways in which science fiction, fantasy, and horror address contemporary politics, social issues, and more. The “cold equations” that established normal life in the modern world may be in shambles, Cohn suggests, but a New Black Fantastic makes it possible for the radical imagination to glimpse viable possibilities on the other side of crisis.


"The culmination of decades of experience, Hot Equations is an exciting entry in the anarchist study of science fiction/fantasy and literature."

- Andrew Culp, professor of media history and theory at California Institute of the Arts and author of Dark Deleuze

"Hot Equations opens compelling new approaches to the study of science fiction and demonstrates the immense value of anarchist and antifascist analyses in the field."

- James Gifford, author of A Modernist Fantasy: Modernism, Anarchism, and the Radical Fantastic