The Utopian/Dystopian American Dream: Immigration and Labor in Latina/o Science Fiction

Critical Dystopias and Future-Histories

In science fiction narratives, a break with one world may imply the destruction of the world of others (such as those living on the margins), and as a result, dystopias and critical dystopias emerge[1]. Past desires for utopian spaces are often crushed by dystopian conditions. However, as José Esteban Muñoz states in Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, “we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds” (1). Thus, I have chosen to bring three specific texts together to trace how immigration and labor practices have served as the basis for cognitive estrangement since the early 20th century novel as revealed in Venegas’s novel. The unraveling of this immigrant dream shapes the science fictional future-worlds envisioned by Rosaura Sánchez, Beatrice Pita, and Alex Rivera. My aim is to demonstrate how two Latina/o science fiction texts operate as a critical dystopia through narratives that seek to critique the horrors of the present and the absence of a better world for minorities.

[1] My definition of dystopia and critical dystopia emerges from Tom Moylan’s Scraps of Untainted Sky. Moylan explains how capitalism’s reproduction of “utopia” has left tropes of dystopia “to represent and inform what critique and opposition remain” (187). Therefore, a critical dystopia serves as a tool to critique and offer alternatives to change the present system so that marginalized people can survive, but also create a social reality that is not determined by “enhancing competition in order to gain more profit for a select few” (189). 
My aim in bringing a historical and two contemporary science fiction texts together is to analyze how a future-history is constructed. In Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr.’s The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, he explains that despite the future imaginings of science fiction, they are ultimately coming from a past, from what he terms a future past. In fact, Csicsery-Ronay states “SF’s completed futures mediate the relationship between the human present and the future.” Mediating between the past, present and future are useful for understanding how the past has produced the present and will shape the future if we stay on a fixed path. It is important to reevaluate the past in order to understand how the present and future can be shaped, and this can be accomplished through practices of collectivity and collaboration. Therefore, I begin with The Adventures of Don Chipote, and then Lunar Braceros 2125-2148 and Sleep Dealer to illustrate the entanglements of utopian and dystopian worlds throughout various moments in time, which point to the U.S.’s past, present and possible future as one driven by domination over people, land, and even other planets in the name of the ideological and utopian American Dream. It is this same ideology that manipulates and ensnares immigrant and marginalized communities into its web and offers them very little opportunities to escape the dystopia that they have been placed in. 

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