“The Failure of Post-9/11 Science Fiction” (NYRSF)

“The Failure of Post-9/11 Science Fiction” is an academic article and critical review first published in The New York Review of Science Fiction (September 2012 Issue, Vol. 25, No. 289, pg. 8). The piece is based on research with Richard Bulliet and Khalil Abdur-Rashid at the Columbia University Departments of History and of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies.

Abstract: From culture and politics to religion and extremism, American speculative literature about the Muslim world has unfortunately stepped down the intellectual ladder since September 11, 2001. This article uses William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Matt Ruff’s The Mirage as springboards to critique a wide variety of other well-known works of speculative fiction. Science fiction, which reflects the present more than it predicts the future, wields a remarkable ability to change the present and challenge widespread, prejudiced norms. Unfortunately, this literary strength has waned with respect to science fiction’s portrayal of America’s relations with the Muslim world.

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SEE ALSO: An updated commentary on this article in Revisiting Speculative Fiction in a Post-9/11 World (Sept. 14, 2015).

The Failure of Post-9/11 Science Fiction

by Haris A. Durrani

Experience Removed from Culture—Or Culture Removed from Context?

William Gibson had penned 100 pages of his new novel Pattern Recognition when the Twin Towers fell. He felt the event was an “experience out of culture” (137), that it affected the American public and the world so profoundly he needed to re-write his protagonist’s backstory. Like many artists of the time, he viewed 9/11 as a turning point. Gibson, who coined the term cyberspace and whose previous fiction was revolutionary for creating a far future of high-tech and hackers, saw 9/11 as a “nodal point” in history (“Nodal Point”). The present had become science fiction. Published in 2003, Pattern Recognition was Gibson’s first major work to take place not in the far future but an ever-changing present. For Gibson, 9/11 marked the true start of the twenty-first century (Bennie). But “if 9/11 was ‘an experience out of culture,’” writes Salon’s Andrew Leonard, “then how are we supposed to impose meaning on it?”

But maybe it’s more accurate to say, whether Gibson would agree or not, that culture as an explanation or lens has been eliminated from its place in the popular American view of 9/11—and perhaps, as a result, the Muslim world. As I will demonstrate, all that remains in the popular view is a desire to understand why America was attacked in the simple language of good and evil, to depict the perceived enemy as only a religiously-motivated one—to retreat, as Gibson described it, into modern-day tribalism (“Interview de . . . ”). Indeed, I will argue that the context of the discussion about the Muslim world in the popular American view has shifted from one of culture and politics to religion and extremism. This is a dire simplification which does no justice to the political roots of the tragedy of 9/11. I see this shift from politics and culture to religion and extremism particularly in American speculative fiction.

Speculative fiction has always captured both the aspirations and anxieties of its audience as much as it reflects on the past, present, or future. The Golden Age of science fiction, headlined by writers like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, was a product of the early Space Age and inspired a generation of scientists and engineers. George Orwell’s 1984 reflects a post-WWII era concerned with Soviet totalitarianism and the future of British democracy. Edwin Abbott’s Flatland satirizes the hierarchical divisions of society in Victorian England. Even if it veers from the mainstream, speculative fiction, the “literature of ideas” as it is often called, suggests something about the political, cultural, and social mindset of its audience. Gibson remarked in an interview for Wired, “Nobody really writes about the future. All we really have . . . is the moment in which we are writing” (“Zero History”). For this reason, I think it is through speculative fiction that I might gauge the changes in American popular culture before and after 9/11.

From Politics to Religion: Dune and The Mirage

I am focusing on two novels as the primary examples with which to observe this shift from culture and politics to religion and extremism in American speculative fiction, and by implication in American pop culture: Frank Herbert’s 1965 classic Dune, often considered the greatest science fiction novel of all time, and Matt Ruff’s 2012 minor bestseller The Mirage, which has received significant press from The New York Times, Publishers Weekly (starred review), The Washington Post, the AP, CBS, NPR, and many more.

In Dune, political forces attempt to conquer the titular desert planet—whose formal name is Arrakis, phonetically similar to “Iraq”—in order to control “the spice mélange,” a chemical both a drug and fuel vital for interstellar flight, native only to Dune. The erratic climate of Dune, its mighty subterranean sandworms hundreds of meters in length, and most of all the tenacious, Bedouin-like locals, the “Fremen,” frustrate imperial rule. Herbert’s protagonist is Paul Atreides, a young off-worlder whose royal family is stripped of its power and forced by the interstellar Emperor and the like-minded Baron Vladimir Harkonnen to live in Dune’s harsh climate and regulate the spice industry. Paul adopts the Fremen culture, takes up the religious mantle of “Muad’Dib,” and leads the Fremen in revolt and war against the Emperor and Baron.

While Herbert describes this war as a righteous “jihad,” I am hesitant to use this word because there are many preconceived notions today about jihad. This is a topic for an entirely separate discussion, but I would like to simply note that jihad literally means “struggle” and that in most discourses on Islam, jihad is an intellectual and spiritual struggle of the mind and soul rather than a call to arms. The term was first coming into popular use as a reference to battle around the time of Dune’s publication, and while it did not become a buzzword until 9/11, it is perhaps notable for its use in Afghanistan, where the Mujahidin—“Freedom Fighters,” a word derived from “jihad”—were proudly supported by the Reagan Administration when fighting the Soviets.

In The Mirage, Ruff describes not a far future but an alternate history—one in which the Middle East, not the West, rose to power in the modern era. On 11/9, Christian extremists from a fractured, war-torn Christian States of America (C.S.A.) fly two planes into the Baghdad World Trade Towers, another into Riyadh’s Arab Defense Ministry, and a fourth, thwarted by its passengers, near Mecca. The secular, democratic United Arab States (U.A.S.) declares a War on Terror, invading the C.S.A. in search of weapons of mass destruction. The novel is rife with historical twists: Saddam Hussein is a mobster who authorities can never successfully prosecute in court; Osama Bin Laden is a corrupt U.A.S. Senator who orchestrates the War on Terror; Timothy McVeigh, David Koresh, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney are Christian-American militants; Lyndon B. Johnson is a former tyrant and religious zealot, the Saddam Hussein in this version of history; and so on. Originally conceived as a television series, the novel is a kind of alternate 24, following three U.A.S. Homeland Security agents in pursuit of Christian terrorists. The agents soon realize they are living in “the Mirage,” and the real world may be one in which the U.A.S. is a fractured “Middle East” and the terrorist attacks were orchestrated by a Muslim extremist, Bin Laden, on American soil.

Although Ruff’s historical twist might remain an effective means of challenging stereotypes and inviting interfaith dialogue, this very reversal focuses on religion, not politics, thus undermining the importance of the political influences which generated the state of Middle East politics today. In contrast, pre-9/11 science fiction like Dune—a metaphorical and, according to some critics and readers, prescient analysis of American intervention in the Middle East—portrays a far future world. With Herbert’s novel, the influences of culture and politics are driving forces in the characterization, plot, and message of his anti-imperialist work, with religion a part of the broader Fremen culture, harnessed for justice. With The Mirage, the driving literary elements are religion and extremism. This implies the context of the discussion about America and the Muslim world has shifted in American speculative fiction—and thus perhaps in American pop culture—from one of culture and politics to religion and extremism, perhaps for the worst.

In fact, it seems this shift is a “dumbing down” of pop culture perceptions of the Muslim world, particularly considering the inaccuracies Ruff seems to perpetrate when he uses his “Mirage” concept as a semi-satirical attempt to shed light on the state of American-Middle Eastern or Christian-Muslim relations today. For example, in Ruff’s description of the splintered Americas, the Christian extremists are hardly given the aura of depravity associated with Bin Laden, although Bin Laden and Cheney (referred to as “the Quail Hunter”) are each described as a “wicked prince,” evil by nature (314, 330). Bent on waging a holy war, Senator Bin Laden uses the 11/9 attacks as an excuse to sponsor an invasion of Christian America. He also claims he’s looking for weapons of mass destruction that clearly do not exist.

Ruff’s satirical criticism of the U.S. invasion of Iraq misses one of the most vital factors: oil and gas. For the U.S., one of the greatest benefits of the Iraq War was establishing a strong military presence in Qatar, host to the largest non-associated natural gas field in the world (per the United States Energy Information Agency). According to Richard Bulliet at Columbia University, as a result of the United States’s success in Iraq, “We [Americans] can on any day put more troops into Qatar than the entire adult male population of the country” (lecture notes, April 5, 2012). In The Mirage, there is an analogue for Muslim extremists and the Iraq War but no parallel to the energy resources, no significant economic and political motivation for the war.

The religious and extremist motivations of Ruff’s antagonists come in stark contrast with the highly political motivations of the antagonists of Dune, who vie for control of the spice. Herbert’s pre-9/11 villains are evil for their political machinations and sense of cultural superiority, not because of some inherent wickedness. There are religious overtones on all sides of the complex conflict, but except among the Fremen, religion is at best a minor factor and at worst a tool of social control. The Fremen’s Islam-inspired faith is presented as an admirable part of their culture. Using religion and a moral struggle of “good and evil” as its driving factors, The Mirage loses the political, cultural know-how of Dune.

This specific comparison seems to characterize the paradigm shift from culture and politics to religion and extremism in pre- to post-9/11 speculative fiction as a step backward. Ruff’s kind of thinking eliminates a vital part of the political and cultural narrative’s reality. While the real Bin Laden was certainly evil, it’s important to remember the cultural and political forces behind his evil: the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia, for example, or the fact that the U.S. left the Mujahidin in the dust after they helped America defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan. In reality, one could argue Bin Laden is not evil simply because he’s inherently depraved; there’s a social, political background to Bin Laden’s atrocities which Ruff describes in no more than a few summary paragraphs, failing to provide significant analogues to the real Bin Laden’s frustration with American ties to Saudi Arabia and the post-Soviet mistreatment of Afghanis. Bin Laden’s transformation into mass-murderer in The Mirage is for the most part purely personal and religious rather than also political and social.

As Bulliet, who has worked with the U.S. government as an academic expert on Al-Qaeda propaganda, has asserted, the chief motives of terrorism are usually political and social; religion is often an excuse, a way to justify such cruelty or a simple label to identify the “other.” Historically, for example, the most violent period of Christian witch hunts occurred during an era of social strife. The first suicide bombings were in Sri Lanka, but the Tamil Buddhists who performed such acts never justified their actions with religion. In the 1960s and ’70s, American radicals such as the perpetrators of the 1970 Sterling Hall Bombing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison believed they could trigger revolution against the U.S. “military industrial complex” which had wrought the atrocities of Vietnam. Bulliet asserts religion is an often minor factor in a “complex of causes” which leads to terrorism (lecture notes, March 29, 2012). There are cases where religious affiliation becomes a marker for a whole history of social conflict, as in Northern Ireland or Milosovic’s Yugoslavia, but for Ruff, religion is the key factor in a conflict that spans a range of causes. The concept of The Mirage is based purely on religion: the U.A.S. is intended to be a political, cultural mirror of the actual United States, with a secular democracy equivalent in structure to that of the real-world U.S.A., and the crux of the novel lies in the one difference between these two worlds—religion. Overblowing religion and undermining culture and politics, The Mirage as a work of speculative fiction might reflect something about some part of the American public. Based on the popularity and press surrounding The Mirage, it seems that the public agrees with its implications and bases, which involve the simplification of relations between America and the Muslim world, filling its view with a black-and-white notion of religious motivations and a cosmic struggle of good versus evil.

Maybe this is what Gibson meant when he claimed the post-9/11 world is defined by tribalism and an attempt to render meaning out of a confusing, ever-changing present. But it’s not the present that’s confusing; it’s the public that’s confused. By overemphasizing the importance of the religious motivations for terrorism, the political meat of the issue is forgotten. In this sense, 9/11 becomes “an experience out of culture.” While Gibson implies the result in the public eye is a post-modern state of bewilderment about its chaotic times, speculative post-9/11 literature like The Mirage indicates that American pop culture has instead taken the next step by resolving its own confusion. The public does so by explaining the relations between America and the Muslim world under the auspices of an absolute good and evil, as is evident by the conclusion of Ruff’s novel. Unfortunately, The Mirage is either echoing or fostering the simplification of American popular thought about the Muslim world, marking the shift in American speculative fiction about the Muslim world from politics and culture to religion and extremism as a step down.

The Big Picture

The differences between Dune and The Mirage are explicit and do illustrate a larger shift between pre- and post-9/11 speculative fiction. This shift from Herbert’s novel to Ruff’s is indicative of a widespread trend. A brief overview of notable American speculative fiction before and after 9/11 reveals this to be for the most part true.

Maureen F. McHugh’s Nekropolis, published in August 2001, concerns a slave in near future Morocco, sexually oppressed by the culture she lives in.

George Alec Effinger’s 1986 novel When Gravity Fails imagines a setting like Ruff’s in which the Muslim world surpasses the West—except that Effinger’s novel is a far future “cyberpunk” tale like Gibson’s pre-9/11 work. Also unlike The Mirage, When Gravity Fails describes a decadent, gang-riddled Middle East. As one reviewer remarked, it “takes place mostly around strip clubs and bars; Islam here is no stronger as a moral force than Christianity is in noir novels set in the U.S. . . . The changes are mostly surface . . . but create . . . a feeling of well-grounded exoticism for the American reader” (Allbery).

Kim Stanley Robinson’s 1992 classic Red Mars adopts a similarly Orientalist vein, introducing readers to Arab settlers on Mars whose “thinking [on secularism] clashes radically with Western thought,” whose “women were said to be illiterate” and who held “the dangerous look . . . associated with machismo, the look of men who oppressed their women so cruelly that naturally the women struck back where they could, terrorizing sons who then terrorized wives . . . and so on . . . in an endless death spiral of twisted love and sex hatred.” The Arabs are “madmen,” Robinson’s character decides, from “an alien culture, no doubt about it” (9–10). Dune’s allusions to Middle East culture might persist as a more positive pre-9/11 rendition in speculative literature about the Muslim world, but regardless of bias most of the few speculative works on the subject at the time had more to do with the politics and culture—or cultures—of the Muslim world than Islam itself.

One exception might be Dan Simmons’s acclaimed 1989 novel Hyperion, a far-future allusion to the Canterbury Tales in which each of a motley crew of pilgrims tells a story along their journey to the titular planet. The “Soldier’s Tale” is the story of a Muslim soldier who fights Muslim extremists and eventually becomes an anti-war activist. At one point he declares to the Muslim “zealots,” “the God of Islam would neither condone nor allow the slaughter of the innocent” (134). Simmons describes the character’s plights and battles with a notable emphasis on Islam. Of course, Muslims—especially those battling extremism—might not use the phrase “the God of Islam,” especially to other Muslims, because they would argue that “the God of Islam” is a universal one. There are similar inaccuracies throughout “The Soldier’s Tale,” but regardless of whether Simmons is depicting a slightly more positive vision of Muslims than McHugh, Effinger, or Robinson, his focus is on religion rather than culture and politics. McHugh is talking about Morocco, Robinson about Saudis, and Effinger about Middle Eastern culture in general.

What is interesting to note is that after 9/11, Simmons began to produce increasingly xenophobic fiction, writing more often about Islam. His 2005 novel Olympos is partially set in a post-apocalyptic Earth inhabited with monsters created by a long-ago Caliphate to exterminate Jews. His 2011 thriller Flashback depicts a near-future America in economic collapse, when Mexican immigrants are crossing the border en masse and a “New Global Caliphate” has obliterated Israel, wreaked a “Second Holocaust,” and erected a giant Mosque on Ground Zero. Previously, Simmons was well-regarded as not only an established figure in the world of speculative fiction but also in literary, intellectual circles outside the genre for his literary style and frequent allusions to canonical Western literature by the likes of Homer, Dickens, Shakespeare, Keats, and Nabokov. 9/11 might not have shifted his focus from culture to religion—he was already on religion—but it did seem to have scarred his opinion of Islam, leading him to write more prolifically and hostilely about the religion.

Similarly, while the quantity of work about the Muslim world in speculative fiction was scarce before 9/11, there was as in Simmons’s case a small but noteworthy outpour of related works after 9/11. Most of these, like Simmons’s “hyper-conservative” Flashback (Powers), exuded an extreme fear of Islam. Tom Kratman has written multiple such works, notably his 2008 novel Caliphate. Daniel Keyes’s 2009 thriller The Asylum Prophecies is similarly rash. Keyes’s heart-wrenching and thought-provoking, pre-9/11 Flowers for Algernon, about a medication that dramatically increases the intelligence of a retarded young man, had like Simmons’s previous work established him as a leading literary figure. But The Asylum Prophecies, Keyes’s first novel in twenty years, was a poorly written psychological thriller about Muslim terrorists. His portrayal of Islam—focusing on the religion, not its cultures—was not only one-sided but surprisingly inaccurate. Under a fatwa in the novel, any Muslim in the world is obligated to rape and behead an apostate, and the terrorists seem concerned chiefly with the growth of the Ummah, flogging and stoning apostates, and forceful proselytization.

Among the more “liberal” novels, science fiction icon Greg Egan wrote Zendegi in 2010 after visiting Iran in 2008 and around the time of the 2009–10 Iranian election protests. Though Egan and his protagonist are Australian, not American, the novel’s arm reception in the U.S. (it received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist) makes the novel worth discussing here. Zendegi is intended to be a deeply personal story through which Egan details both the virtual mapping of the human brain by an Iranian scientist and an Australian journalist’s romance and eventual marriage to a political activist in near-future Iran. The plot revolves around the democratization of Iran and the relationship between Iranian culture and Islam. The Australian journalist, Martin—likely an analogue for Egan’s trip into Iran—marries not a political activist with a hijab but an activist formerly in an underground Goth-metal band, decidedly “Western” or “American,” the stereotypical image of a “radical feminist” and an unobservant Muslim. Perhaps Egan is implying a hijabi or even an observant, uncovered Muslim woman is unlikely to be an activist or feminist. Throughout, Martin frequently expresses his love for the Iranian people and their culture but his disagreement with the anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, homophobia, and backwardness of Islam. He even prefers his son is not raised a Muslim for these reasons. Iranian culture is not the problem, Egan is saying. The problem is Islam. Again, the focus of Egan’s message as in Ruff’s post-9/11 speculative work and others is on religion. The result is an oversimplification of Islam, Muslims, and the Muslim world.

What most of these post-9/11 novels, Ruff’s included, share is the motif of the political and economic collapse of America and the uncertainty, especially in light of the Arab Spring, of revolution in the Muslim world. As Damien Walter wrote in The Guardian on April 20, 2012, modern science fiction is frequently concerned with the “fall of Western capitalism.” Even if these works have nothing to do with the Muslim world, this motif persists from David Marusek’s Counting Heads, Albert Brook’s 2030, McHugh’s After the Apocalypse (published 10 years after Nekroplis), and Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story to Simmons’s Flashback and Kratman’s Caliphate. Even Robinson, whose pre-9/11 Red Mars described a repulsive Arab culture, published The Years of Rice and Salt in 2002, an alternate history in which the Black Plague eliminated most of the Western Christian population and Buddhism and Islam became the world’s dominant religions.

Of these works about the “fall of Western capitalism,” the stories about the Muslim world are concerned primarily with religion: How can Islam succeed in producing a secular, thriving, First World democracy like America’s? This question assumes there is a problem with Islam in the first place, regardless of the fact that some, like Ruff, believe Islam can achieve this version of success. A secular democracy is not the only possible form of modernization, after all. And even so, in light of the recent 2012 GOP primaries and presidential campaign, “secular democracy” seems an increasingly inaccurate description of American politics. This is not to say American politics was a purely secular democracy beforehand—consider the American slave industry, temperance law and prohibition, Jim Crow and women’s suffrage, or controversy over JFK’s Catholicism (Bulliet 126–132; Bulliet, lecture notes, February 7, 2012). What post-9/11 literature from The Mirage, which at least tries to spin a positive image of the Muslim world, to Simmons’s bigoted Flashback share is a preoccupation with the collapse of America and the uncertain rise of the Muslim world for better or worse.

Meanwhile pre-9/11 speculative fiction, prejudiced or otherwise, seems more concerned with the culture and politics rather than religion of the Muslim world. While McHugh’s pre-9/11 Nekropolis does suggest a concern with the future of the Muslim world, such anxieties are not as spelled out in terms of religion as in Flashback or The Mirage. Dune, in contrast, is hardly concerned with Islam as a religion at all. Religion is just one element of the culture, one which imparts strength to the characters’ cultural identity as they battle the political forces of imperialism.

In the wake of 9/11, the rise of American speculative fiction about American economic collapse, the future of an increasingly mobilized—via terrorism or political Islam—Muslim world, and Islam as a religion are hints that Americans are increasingly concerned about what Islam will have to offer in the near future. If Islam is a problem, these novels ask, how can it be fixed? The solution, from this view, is to make the Muslim world “like us”—secular and democratic, rather than allowing these cultures to achieve modernity on their own terms through democracy or otherwise. 9/11 and the Arab Spring seem to have woken the American public to the effect of the Muslim world on America and its “ideals,” but unfortunately these broader effects are seen—at least in speculative fiction—solely through the lens of 9/11 and the Arab Spring themselves. Such events have perhaps made the American perception of such American-Muslim relations personal via a fear of invasion or of democracy gone awry abroad.

“The Artists Are Missing”

As an avid science fiction reader I am hard-pressed to think of a positive post-9/11 American speculative novel about the Muslim world. This is a reality which needs to change. From Abbott’s Flatland and Orwell’s 1984 to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Herbert’s Dune, speculative fiction always had a fight to pick with its readers. Perhaps the problem is there are not enough Muslims writing speculative fiction. Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon comes to mind, but while it does a decent job portraying the diversity of the Muslim world, it also seems preoccupied with the question of religion. Its wise, elderly, and very capable protagonist, for example, often criticizes the close-mindedness of his pious assistant—who, by the way, is a dervish; if anything, a Salafi, not a Sufi dervish, would be the stereotypically strict conservative (Kadri 7-11). Perhaps G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen, which has just hit bookstores, will offer something new and provocative. Indeed, good speculative literature not only captures the concerns of its society but also tries to answer them constructively, often in a manner which does not appease the popular view. Speculative fiction does not merely inspire; it challenges.

By this standard, post-9/11 speculative literature has failed the American public. It simply echoes American fears of the Muslim Other, capitalizing on American anxieties. As Bulliet remarks, American literature and media tend to “cherry-pick” stories which are not reflective of the Muslim world, engdendering a “common denominator of American feelings.” In much the same way that public figures like Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali take advantage of the popular appeal of Islamophobia for personal gain (Bulliet, lecture notes, April 19, 2012), today’s speculative fiction writers seem to do the same. If they are not writing for personal gain, then they appear to have merely assimilated into the popular American view of the Muslim world. Instead of challenging the status quo, these writers facilitate it. In his April 9, 2012 Guardian op-ed “Why Are English and American Novels Today So Gutless?” Aditya Chakrabortty notes political activism is on the decline among American authors of all genres, despite the “many big crises that need addressing.” In American speculative fiction about the Muslim world, these writers echo the “common denominator,” in Bulliet’s words—an oversimplified interpretation of the relationship between America and the Muslim world in the absolute language of religious motivation and the extremism of good versus evil.

Where are the Abbotts, Orwells, Vonneguts, and Herberts of American speculative literature to challenge the post-9/11 perception of the Muslim world? As Chakrabortty writes, “At the point when we need people of all disciplines . . . the artists are missing.” There needs to be a second paradigm shift in the popular view, one which enhances understanding rather than simplifies to caricature. Speculative fiction, whose track record has always veered from the mainstream, is equipped with the tools to enhance and challenge. All that’s needed is a few good writers who are willing to set themselves apart from the crowd.

Works Cited

Ahmed, Saladin. Throne of the Crescent Moon. New York: DAW-Penguin, 2012.

Allbery, Russ. “When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger.” Eyrie. 18 Oct. 2006. <www.eyrie.org/~eagle/reviews/books/0-553-25555-X.html>. Accessed 20 April 2012.

Bennie, Angela. “A Reality Stranger than Fiction.” Sydney Morning Herald. 7 Sept. 2007: The Sydney Morning Herald. <www.smh.com.au/news/books/a-reality-stranger-than-fiction/2007/09/06/1188783376158.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap3>. Accessed 20 April 2012.

Bulliet, Richard. The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

Chakrabortty, Aditya. “Why Are English and American Novels Today So Gutless?” Guardian 9 Apr. 2012 <www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/09/english-american-novels-gutless>. Accessed 20 April 2012.

Egan, Greg. Zendegi. San Francisco: Night Shade Books, 2010.

Gibson, William. “Interview de William Gibson.” Interview by Eric Holstein and Raoul Abdaloff. ActuSF 28 Mar. 2008. <www.actusf.com/spip/article-5710.html>. Accessed 20 April 2012.

——. “Nodal Point.” Interview by Andrew Leonard. Salon 13 Feb. 2003. <www.salon.com/2003/02/14/gibson_5/>. Accessed 20 April 2012.

——. Pattern Recognition. New York: Berkley Publishing Group-Penguin Group (USA), 2003.

——. “William Gibson Talks Zero History, Paranoia and the Awesome Power of Twitter.” Interview by Scott Thill. Wired 7 Sept. 2010. <www.wired.com/underwire/2010/09/william-gibson-interview/all/1>. Accessed 20 April 2012.

Herbert, Frank. Dune (1965). London: Hodder & Stoughton-Hodder Headline, 2006.

Kadri, Sadakat. Heaven on Earth: A Journey through Shari’a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World. New York City:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. Print.

Keyes, Daniel. The Asylum Prophecies. New York: Dorchester, 2009.

Powers, Katherine A. “Flashback: Imagining Obama’s Apocalyptic American Future.” Rev. of Flashback, by Dan Simmons. Salon 20 July 2011. <www.salon.com/2011/07/21/flashback_don_simmons/>. Accessed 20 April 2012.

Robinson, Kim Stanley. Red Mars. New York: Bantam Spectra-Random, 1993.

Ruff, Matt. The Mirage. New York: Harper Collins, 2012.

Simmons, Dan. “The Soldier’s Tale.” Hyperion (1989). New York: Bantam Spectra-Random, 1995.

United States Energy Information Administration. Country Analysis Briefs: Qatar. Energy Information Administration. Jan. 2011. <>. Accessed 26 April 2012.

Walter, Damien. “Can Science Fiction Lead Us Away from Economic Collapse?” Guardian, 1 Dec. 2011. <www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2011/dec/01/science-fiction-economic-collapse>. Accessed 20 April 2012.