Accepted Paper:

Traveling together: bioships in science fiction  


Ingvil Hellstrand (University of Stavanger)

Paper short abstract:

This paper interrogates the science fictional idea of bioships as an imagined mode of transport that brings together (human/humanoid) pilots and biotechnological ships in ways that demand a reworking of subject-object relations, collaboration and conventional power structures.

Paper long abstract:

In light of contemporary debates on driverless cars and increasing use of human/non-human interface in everyday travel, this paper explores the science fictional idea of bioships as a re-imagining of modes of transport as more-than-technology and more-than-commodity. In science fiction, the mobility of the bioship often requires an intimate and material interaction between pilot, crew and vessel, thereby challenging traditional subject-object relations and power structures. With examples from Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis- trilogy (1987-1989) and TV-series Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009), I apply science fiction as an analytical lens in order to suggest that imaginaries of the bioship are both producer and product of imaginable relations with, and affects towards, "smart" vessels. I argue that the inclusion of organic material or components in spaceships, so - called bioships, open up for a re-conceptualisation of bodies, power relations and infrastructure. With Donna Haraway's figure of the cyborg (1985) as a conceptual backdrop, I discuss how the bioship can be understood as a posthuman collaboration (Barad 2007; Neimanis 2012; Haraway 2016) between species, things and values in a way that potentially allows for a re-working and a re-doing of togetherness in productive ways.

Panel C17
Moving together: problematizing the makings of togetherness