“You’ve seen one post-apocalyptic city, you’ve seen them all”: the scales and failures of the right to the city and the science fiction production of space in Love, Death, & Robots

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“Three Robots,” the third episode of the first season of Netflix’s Love, Death, & Robots (LDR), finds the titular robots on a tourist expedition of a deserted city, photographing corpses while contemplating human life of the past. Long before they start referring to the human hubris that led to environmental crisis and the extinction of civilization, one of them says in disappointment, “You’ve seen one post-apocalyptic city, you’ve seen them all!” Whatever the cause of this particular apocalypse, the observation recalls Henri Lefebvre’s suggestion that the death of the urban is the result of the homogeneity of cities (Schmid 2012). The French philosopher in his 1968 book The Right to the City sees science fiction as a call not only to examine the imaginary next to the scientific but also to examine the imaginary as an intrinsic element of the city (Lefebvre 1996b, 167). Lefebvre goes on to claim that science fiction (SF) has foreseen “every possible and impossible variation of future urban society,” reflecting and projecting into the future contemporary power struggles (Lefebvre 1996b, 160–161). This, of course, raises a number of questions: Are SF imaginaries of future cities always tied to the homogenized neoliberal cities we inhabit, and are they therefore also, in a sense, trapped in this homogenized space, no matter the variation of the imaginary? And, if SF has imagined every permutation of a possible future city, has that imaginary itself become a homogenizing force? Can it no longer imagine an original city? The first season of LDR ponders these questions, while also struggling with its own urban imaginaries—its cities perhaps also trapped within neoliberal homogenized urban grids and a homogenizing SF imaginary.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Science Fiction Television and Space
Subtitle of host publicationProductions and (Re)configurations (1987-2021)
EditorsJoel Hawkes, Alexander Christie, Tom Nienhuis
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783031105289
ISBN (Print)9783031105272, 9783031105302
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2023


  • science Fiction
  • everyday
  • TV series
  • animation
  • urban space
  • media studies

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