Appears in July 2022 with Cambridge University Press
Visions of utopia – some hopeful, others fearful – have become increasingly prevalent in recent times. This book examines expressions of the utopian imagination with a focus on the pressing challenge of how to inhabit a climate-changed world. Forms of social dreaming are tracked across two domains: political theory and speculative fiction. The analysis aims to both uncover the key utopian and dystopian tendencies in contemporary debates around the Anthropocene; as well as to develop a political theory of radical transformation that avoids not only debilitating fatalism but also wishful thinking. No Other Planet juxtaposes theoretical interventions, from Bruno Latour to the members of the Dark Mountain collective, with fantasy and science fiction texts by N. K. Jemisin, Kim Stanley Robinson and Margaret Atwood, debating viable futures for a world that will look and feel very different from the one we live in right now.
- By bringing political theory, utopian studies and the environmental humanities into a conversation with one another, this book reveals original and illuminating perspectives on what it means to inhabit a climate-changed world.
- Through an in-depth analysis of key authors in political theory, No Other Planet provides a systematic and comprehensive defense of social dreaming against both left- and right-wing skeptics.
- By unpacking how utopian theory-building and storytelling can become mutually illuminating, this book demonstrates that contemporary science fiction and fantasy authors, such as N. K. Jemisin, Kim Stanley Robinson and Margaret Atwood, meaningfully contribute to the ongoing debate around our climate-changed world.
“No Other Planet synthesises astute theoretical analysis, bold imagination and an acute consciousness of the stakes for scholars writing about the climate crisis to engage readers in the transformative possibilities of utopian thought, art and action. Dispelling both tired dismissals of utopia as wishful thinking, and their counterpart in resigned fatalism, Mathias Thaler demonstrates how different utopian imaginations, in theory, in fiction and in the prefiguration of activism, can estrange, galvanise and caution those for whom the future seemed fixed by the past and present. In this sense, while never overstating the difference that theory can make in the face of our planet in peril, Thaler has written a book that allows his readers to recognise this one, only planet as one whose future our care, attention and imagination might make a difference.”
Danielle Celermajer (University of Sydney)
“Thaler offers a challenging vision for our times in applying varying traditions of utopian enquiry to the prospect of imminent environmental catastrophe in the coming decades. Commencing from the premise that utopianism involves the “education of a desire for being and living otherwise”, he contends that this process demands re-imagining who we are and where we are going. No mere wishful thinkers or builders of castles in the sky, utopians vindicate the imagination in offering us visions of prospective alternative worlds which lift us beyond the constricting horizons of the everyday and suggest solutions to the deadly scenario looming before us. This is a provocative, refreshing, and welcome addition to the literature on utopianism, to current proposals about solving global warming, and to the revival of utopian thinking itself.”
Gregory Claeys (Royal Holloway, University of London)
“Our ecological predicament can seem overwhelmingly grim. Mathias Thaler’s deeply thoughtful book shows what speculative fiction can bring to understanding present-day crises, and the desire and impetus for ecological hope. Thaler resists clean-cut, easy solutions. Instead, utopian studies, environmental humanities, and political theory meet in this brilliant exploration of the social and theoretical tensions that arise when there is nowhere else to go, and where the flourishing of the radical imagination, in all its diversity, depends on supporting rather than papering over the faultlines.”
Davina Cooper (King’s College London)
“The extensive analysis of the meanings of utopianism in No Other Planet is the most illuminating that I have come across in political theory. This is in large part a result of Thaler’s style and sensibility. He is a very generous interlocutor: rather than seeking to discredit or dismiss alternative viewpoints, or engaging in polemics with authors he disagrees with, he seeks out points of agreement or constructive elements that he can build on or incorporate into his own thinking, even as he is clear about what he rejects. As such, the book has an admirable cumulative synthetic quality, grounded in a view of scholarship as a shared endeavour rather than a blood-sport. It is an attractive scholarly virtue. Indeed it can be read as modelling some of the utopian openness and generosity that he seeks to diagnose and prescribe.”
Duncan Bell (Cambridge)