This is an investigation of the role of space travel in popular imagination, arguing that the relationship between space and sex is more complicated than it first appears. NASA itself, in a scramble to protect its funding, has turned to icons of popular culture which play fast and loose with sexual stereotypes. Nowhere is this more evident than in the space agency's open borrowing from "Star Trek". The test model for the shuttle was named after the star ship "Enterprise, NASA personnel name their computers after Spock and NASA hired Lieutenant Uhura to assist in its recruitment of women and minorities. Meanwhile, "Star Trek" is reshaped by networks of women fans producing samizdat porno-romance fanzines which star Spock and Captain Kirk in a homosexual relationship. Completing the orbit, the subversions of the fans are re-integrated by the show's producers. In one episode, Kirk approaches Spock, arms extended for a manly embrace. "Please Captain, " the ever proper Spock demurs, "not in front of the Klingons." The book illustrates "Star Trek" fans' criticisms of the show's inability to include women - and issues of sex and sexuality - in the world of science and technology.
NASA, too, fails in the same way. To counter official versions of science, the fans propose instead a popular science that boldly goes where no one has gone before, but which remains answerable to human needs and social desires. Constance Penley is the author of "The Future of Illusion: Film, Feminism and Psychoanalysis", and the editor of "Technoculture" with Andrew Ross.
Publisher: Verso Books