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Living in Technical Legality

Science Fiction and Law as Technology

Kieran Tranter

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A user’s guide to living within a technological culture and its technologised law

Through detailed readings of popular science fiction, including the novels of Frank Herbert and Octavia E. Butler and television’s Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who, this is the first sustained examination of legality in science fiction. Kieran Tranter includes substantive worked examples of the law and legal concepts projected by these science fiction texts, such as Australian car culture, legal responses to cloning and the relationship between legal theory and science fiction.

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List of Figures


Introduction: Living in Technical Legality

Science Fiction and Law
The Chapters to Come

Part I: Technical Legality

1. From Law and Technology to Law as Technology

Cloning Law
Frankenstein Myth
Law as Technology

2. Dune, Modern Law and the Alchemy of Death and Time

Sand, Spice and Empire
The Illusion of Control
Sovereignty as the Alchemy of Death and Time

3. Battlestar Galactica, Technology and Lfe

Battlestar Galactica Redux
Sovereigns and Subjects in Battlestar Galactica
The Metaphysics of Technology

Part II: Living in Technical Legality

4. Xenogenesis and the Technical Legal Subject

Biopower and Natureculture on an Alien Rehabilitated Earth
The Technical Legal Subject of Xenogenesis
Living Well as a Technical Legal Subject

5. The Doctor and Technical Lawyering

Time and a Blue Box
Death and the Doctor
The Doctor as the Paradigm Technical Lawyer

6. Mad Max and Mapping the Monsters in the Networks

Identity, Myth and Biopower in Mad Max 2
The Australian Human-automobile
Cartographies of Technical Legality

7. Deserts and Technical Legality


About the Author

Kieran Tranter is Associate Professor at Griffith Law School, Griffith University. He has a background in science, law and the humanities. He is fascinated by the ways that culture imagines, mediates and disrupts legal and technological change. He has written widely on law and technology and law and popular culture.


In Living in Technical Legality, Tranter leverages his prior work to produce a masterful examination of what it means to be living in an era that seems infused with sci fi tropes from the past. This is a valuable contribution to law and technology studies.

- Arthur Cockfield, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada

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