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Warstat, A.F.H., 2016.

Speeding to the Doldrums: Stalled Futures and the Disappearance of Tomorrow in “The Dead Astronaut”

Output Type:Chapter in a book
Publication:J.G. Ballard : Landscapes of Tomorrow
Brief Description/Editor(s):Brown, R., Stainforth, E.

This chapter discusses how J.G. Ballard’s short story “The Dead Astronaut” is fixated on a melancholic and alienated future that never arrived. The narrative is, literally, a disaster story, containing astral traces of a dead or absent future. In Ballard’s tale the protagonist’s return to this stalled future is premised on the absence or impossibility of a primal scene to return to: the future is inaccessible and has yet to happen. Instead of productively mourning one particular version of the future (which might then provoke further futures), the story melancholically reiterates a stalled, traumatic process of nachträglichkeit or “coming after.” What, the chapter asks, does Ballard’s story tell us about our impulsion or compulsion towards the future? Is the text the narrative of an interminable post-modern stasis, of “dialectics at a standstill”? Or does it allegorise what happens in the commodification of the future?