Bicycles Across the Galaxy: Attacking Automobility in 1950s Science Fiction
This essay focuses on several works of science fiction from the 1950s that function as counter-narratives to the hegemony of the automobile during this decade and to the accompanying dismissive perceptions of the bicycle. In its analysis of a novel by Robert A. Heinlein (The Rolling Stones, 1952), a novella by Poul Anderson (“A Bicycle Built for Brew,” 1958), and a short story by Avram Davidson (“Or All the Seas with Oysters,” 1958), it asserts that some of the leading figures in Golden Age sf were not content to relegate bicycles to the status of a technological obsolescence fit only for children. Instead, they chose to portray bicycles as useful, potent, and agentic—images that counter the prevailing ideology of “automobility” that was crystallizing with such durability in postwar America.
This article is published as Withers, Jeremy. "Bicycles Across the Galaxy: Attacking Automobility in 1950s Science Fiction." Science Fiction Studies 44, no. 3 (2017): 417-436. doi: 10.5621/sciefictstud.44.3.0417. Posted with permission.