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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: July 2017

14 - Capitalism, Camp, and Cult SF: Space Truckers as Satire

Summary

Set in worlds that are different from our own and often featuring civilizations and customs (or even species) that are different from our own, sf is the genre of difference. And sf fans, with a long history of fandom that dates back to the letters columns in the pulps of the 1930s, tend to be regarded as a sort of subculture, different from the mainstream, though alike in their difference and in their common interest in sf. In like fashion, cult films and other cult objects achieve their cult status both because they are different from the perceived norm in some way and because they have the ability to create a community of intensely devoted followers. Cult and sf films would thus seem to be a natural match, especially since both seem to embody the contradictions of capitalism (which seeks to create a smoothly functioning, well–organized collective, based on an ethos of each against all), perhaps more directly than other cultural forms, even as they typically announce their contempt for values often associated with capitalism—but in a seemingly apolitical way that congratulates their fans on being different from it all.

Stuart Gordon's Space Truckers (1996) exemplifies this vision of the cult film, while introducing (through its satirical engagement with capitalism) interesting questions about the relationship between the cult film and sf in general. The film begins as a reasonably conventional sf narrative, as officials of a sinister “Company” (of the kind common in many previous sf films) test a new high–tech robot warrior on Triton, largest moon of Neptune. These officials look coldly on as the battle–bot decimates a contingent of human soldiers, proving its efficacy in combat. The story then takes a turn as Company CEO A. J. Saggs (Shane Rimmer) takes control of the bot and orders it to destroy its developer, Company research chief Dr. Nabel (Charles Dance), just to make sure the bots stay a well–kept secret so that he can use them to take control of the Earth, whose global government seems in a state of near collapse. While this early portion of the narrative sounds a little over–the–top, it offers a relatively conventional collection of sf iconography.

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Science Fiction Double Feature
  • Online ISBN: 9781781384640
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