HADRON AGE SF (15)
April 13, 2022
One in a series of posts about the 75 best sf adventures published during the genre’s Hadron Age era (from 2004–2023, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema). For Josh Glenn’s Hadron Age Sci-Fi 75 list (a work in progress), click here.
Janelle Monáe’s album The ArchAndroid (2010).
Monáe’s The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) is the sequel to the singer, songwriter, and actress’s debut EP, Metropolis: The Chase Suite (2007); together with The Electric Lady (Suites IV and V) (2013), these releases form a single sci-fi “Emotion Picture” titled Metropolis. A psychedelic, futuristic funk and soul concept album, The ArchAndroid pays homage to P-Funk, Sun Ra, and OutKast, as well as to Ziggy Stardust (which I’ve included on my list of the best New Wave Sci-Fi adventures). Our protagonist, Cindi Mayweather, is an android cloned from Monáe. In Metropolis: The Chase Suite, she was punished for falling in love with a human; here, as well as in Electric Lady, Cindi evades Droid Control and starts an uprising to liberate Metropolis. Highlights include the funk-rap “Dance or Die,” the jazz-funk “Locked Inside,” the new wave and Afro-funk “Cold War” (the minimalist video for which is very moving), the fiery “Come Alive (War of the Roses)”; and the Lauryn-Hill-esque “Neon Valley Street.” Not to mention “Tightrope”, one of the best songs of the era — about which I’ve written before. The ArchAndroid is a call to “androids” — those othered by a society that discriminates based on creed, sex, orientation and identity — to figure out who and what they love.
Fun fact: In interviews, Monáe has explained that she was inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis — and in particular by an intertitle from the 1927 movie insisting that “the mediator between the hand and the mind is always the heart.”
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST HADRON AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES.