The Anatomical Gaze in Tomorrow’s Eve

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De Fren, Allison. "The Anatomical Gaze in Tomorrow’s Eve," which see at link. Science Fiction Studies 36.2 (July 2009): 235-65. Anthologized in Arthur B. Evans, editor. Vintage Visions: Essays on Early Science Fiction. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2014.


Award-winning essay praised by John J. Pierce in his review of the Evans anthology, SFRA Review #313 (Summer 2015): pp. 51-53.[1] Pierce notes that De Fren starts with the idea of the male gaze and the "trade in silicone sex dolls" (for which see our citation to De Fren's slightly later "Technofetishism and the Uncanny Desires of A.S.F.R." However, De Fren goes from there to deal deal with Tomorrow's Eve in context with such SF works as

E.T.A. Hoffman’s “The Sandman” in one direction, and such classic examples as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in the other. She also relates it to the fiction of Charles Baudelaire, and to the fetishistic portrayal of women (including as mannequins) in early films by George Méliès as well as Thomas Edison [...]. But that’s only the beginning; De Fren traces the idea of “dissection” in the novel to the anatomical studies of cadavers that began in the Renaissance, and were reflected in art as well as science of the time, and even in a perverse fascination with death and decomposition.

She has done a staggering amount of research to bolster her case. Moreover, she doesn’t oversimplify that case; artificial persons in SF are not invariably sinister, nor are female versions necessarily just sex objects: Arnold Schwarzenegger showed that in Terminator 2, and Summer Glau in The Sarah Connor Chronicles on TV. (Pierce, p. 53)


RDE, finishing, 8Aug21