Thanks to C21 Literature for publishing my article on their Open Access platform https://c21.openlibhums.org/article/id/3228/
What does it mean to be human in a world that is both viral and vulnerable? The current pandemic has made clear that we live porous lives in a porous world of bacteria, microbes, viruses, organic bodies, and non-organic matter. In this article I explore the ethical and embodied conflicts this exposes us to, proposing that the motif of human and posthuman skin in speculative fiction re-assesses the relation between exposure and agency. In near-future worlds of ecological, socio-economic and viral breakdown, the vulnerable and porous human epidermis becomes a key site for probing the ethics of an ecologically enmeshed concept of human selfhood. The posthuman subjects of the feminist speculative fiction by Larissa Lai and Rita Indiana are deeply immersed – for better and worse – in the toxic realities they inhabit; but importantly, they also explore ways to navigate this entanglement and develop both agency and health within such exposure, salvaging sustainable futures for humanity on a broken planet. Working within an ecocritical framework, this article therefore charts pathways through the often doom-laden dystopias of science fiction towards more creative ways of inhabiting porous and exposed skins, in order to sustain human and nonhuman life in pandemic environments.