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Vertical cities: Representations of urban verticality in 20th-century science fiction literature

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Lucy Hewitt, Professor Stephen Graham


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This paper seeks to intersect two recent trends in urban research. First, it takes seriously the recognition that established traditions of research concerned with urban space have tended to privilege the horizontal extension of cities to the neglect of their vertical or volumetric extension. Second, the paper contributes to the resurgence of interest among social scientists in the validity of fiction – and especially speculative or science fiction – as a source of critical commentary and as a mode of knowledge that can exist in close reciprocity with non-fictional work. From these two starting points the paper develops a reading of the dialogue between the representations of vertical urban life that have featured in landmark works of 20th-century science fiction literature and key themes in contemporary urban analysis.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hewitt L, Graham S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Urban Studies

Year: 2015

Volume: 52

Issue: 5

Pages: 923-937

Print publication date: 01/04/2015

Online publication date: 22/04/2014

ISSN (print): 0042-0980

ISSN (electronic): 1360-063X

Publisher: Sage


DOI: 10.1177/0042098014529345


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