Science fictional fabulation deals in futurity

The future is unavoidably vague and multifarious; it stubbornly resists our efforts to know it in advance, let alone to guide it or circumscribe it.

But science fiction takes up this very vagueness and indeterminacy, by rendering it into the form of a self-consciously fictional narrative. It gives us characters who experience the vagaries of unforeseeable change.

In other words, science fictional fabulation concretizes futurity as such, with its social, technological, and ontological indeterminacy intact. In this way, it does something similar to what Claude Lévi-Strauss defines as the function of myth: which is “to provide a logical model capable of overcoming a contradiction (an impossible achievement if, as it happens, the contradiction is real)” (Lévi-Strauss 1963). But Lévi-Strauss sees myths as synchronic structures, existing all at once, suspended in the eternal present of a given society. In contrast, narratives are in their very nature diachronic or temporal – or better, historical. Science fictional fabulation deals in futurity, rather than being set in the eternal present of myth. In this way, science fiction is counterfactual, or (to alter this too-familiar word) counter-actual: it offers us a provisional and impossible resolution, suspended in potentiality, of dilemmas and difficulties that are, themselves, all too real.

Henri Bergson, who introduced the notion of fabulation into philosophy, defines it as “a counterfeit of experience,” or a “a systematically false experience,” that nonetheless has considerable value, precisely because of the way that “it can thwart our judgment and reason.” (Pg.108)

“Extreme Fabulations: Science Fictions of Life” by Steven Shaviro.


Finally the messages penetrate

There is a corpse of an image—they penetrate

The corpse of a radio. Cocteau used a car radio on account of NO SPEED LIMIT.

In any case the messages penetrate the radio and render it (and the radio) ultimately useless. —Jack Spicer


This means that the Creative Destruction Marxists are indistinguishable, in terms of actual practice, from the most ruthless capitalists. Their actions coincide with those of a group of investors who have concluded that “there’s money to be made off the destruction of the world” and that in fact apocalyptic destruction constitutes “an unprecedented business opportunity.” They therefore seek to precipitate a worldwide nuclear conflagration: “On behalf of our investors, we’re obligated to take every step we can to insure that we corner the Apocalypse market before anyone else does.”

Let this stand as an introductory parable of accelerationism. The term has become quite popular in the last few years, but it seems to be one of those words that has a different meaning for each person who uses it. As far as I am concerned, accelerationism is best defined—in political, aesthetic, and philosophical terms—as the argument that the only way out is the way through. In order to overcome globalized neoliberal capitalism, we need to drain it to the dregs, push it to its most extreme point, follow it into its furthest and strangest consequences. As Bertolt Brecht put it years ago, “Don’t start from the good old things but the bad new ones.” The hope is that, by exacerbating our current conditions of existence, we will finally be able to make them explode, and thereby move beyond them.

Konstantinou’s description of the “Creative Destruction” Marxists is, of course, a deliberate caricature. Pop Apocalypse is satire, not prophecy. More generally, science fiction as a genre does not claim to actually predict the future. Rather, it works to extrapolate elements of the present, to consider what these elements might lead to if allowed to reach their full potential. That is to say, science fiction is not about the actual future but about the futurity that haunts the present. It grasps, and brings to visibility, what Deleuze calls the virtual dimension of existence, or what Marx calls tendential processes.

Science fiction takes up certain implicit conditions of our personal and social lives, and makes these conditions fully explicit in narrative. It picks out “futuristic” trends that are already embedded within our actual social and technological situation. These trends are not literal matters of fact, but they really exist as tendencies or potentialities. In the words of Deleuze, they are “real without being actual, ideal without being abstract, and symbolic without being fictional.” They are potentials for change, growth, or decay, but they have not fully expressed themselves or done all that they can do. And they may not ever do so, since (as Marx points out) a tendency is always accompanied by “counteracting factors” that can inhibit or even reverse it.

In sum, the present moment contains elements of futurity, but the unfolding of these elements as actual future events is contingent and not guaranteed. A match has the potential to start a fire, but there will not be a fire if the match is never struck, or if, when struck, it is blown out by the wind. Science fiction imagines the flame, and the ensuing conflagration. It provides us with narratives in which these potentials of futurity are fully actualized, unfolding their powers to the utmost. In this way, we might say that science fiction is the accelerationist art par excellence, accelerationist in its very nature.

Accelerationism is a speculative movement that seeks to extrapolate the entire globalized neoliberal capitalist order. This means that it is necessarily an aesthetic movement as well as a political one. The hope driving accelerationism is that, in fully expressing the potentialities of capitalism, we will be able to exhaust it and thereby open up access to something beyond it. (Pg.3)


Accelerationism rather demands a movement against and outside capitalism—but on the basis of tendencies and technologies that are intrinsic to capitalism. (Pg.6)


Global warming and worldwide financial networks are examples of what the ecological theorist Timothy Morton calls hyperobjects. They are phenomena that actually exist but that “stretch our ideas of time and space, since they far outlast most human time scales, or they’re massively distributed in terrestrial space and so are unavailable to immediate experience.” (Pg.😎


True novelty is excluded, because all possible outcomes have already been calculated and paid for in terms of the present. While this belief in the calculability of the future is delusional, it nonetheless determines the way that financial markets actually work. (Pg.11)


This is why accelerationism needs to be an aesthetic program first, before it can be a political one. Speculative fiction can explore the abyss of accelerationist ambivalence, without prematurely pretending to resolve it. (Pg.20)


One of Morgan’s other science fiction novels, Woken Furies, in fact, considers at great length the possibilities for a democratic, egalitarian socialist revolution in a corporate-dominated society much like our own. But Market Forces just explores the extreme ramifications of the neoliberal order, giving us no distance or respite. It’s as if Morgan were saying to the reader, “I’m going to subject you to the worst; I will throw the most violently oppressive social conditions, and the most horrific and disgusting incidents, in your face, and see if you are tough enough to take it.” (Perhaps I should write “man enough,” instead of “tough enough,” since Morgan insists on the male supremacism that underlies the neoliberal order.) This is accelerationism at its purest—without Williams and Srnicek’s hopes for escape or redemption, but also without anything like Land’s apologia-in-the-guise-of-apocalyptic-vision. The novel ends, rather like a Kurt Russell movie, with its protagonist, Chris Faulkner, as the last man standing—or, more precisely, driving—after having killed off all his rivals. “I can do whatever the fuck I want,” Chris says; “men like me, there’s nothing you can do to stop us anymore.” But Morgan deliberately empties out this action-movie cliché, even as he repeats it. For all of Chris’s macho accomplishment, he is little more than the power of capital accumulation personified; in a world devastated by that relentless accumulation, there is nothing that he can do except “[give] himself up to the snarl of the engine, the spreading numbness of the drugs in his system, and the onrushing emptiness of the road ahead.” (Pg.23)

Our future is science fiction fabulation, and climate change denial is an example of accelerationism.

“No Speed Limit: Three Essays on Accelerationism (Forerunners: Ideas First)” by Steven Shaviro.

WE&P by: EZorrillaM.