Sunday, October 12, 2014

Some resources on sci-fi & philosophy

Eric Schwitzgebel has invited several philosophers and sci-fi authors to post lists of their favourite philosophical sci-fi stories. He's posted four batches so far (batch 1, batch 2, batch 3, and batch 4).

Schwitzgebel's inspiring effort got me thinking about other sources that may be relevant to the topic. Here's what I've found so far.

First, there are five six anthologies:

1. Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (2010), its table of contents, a teacher's guide; it was reviewed by Matthew Cheney;

2. Philosophy of Science Fiction Film, by retired philosophy prof Steven M. Sanders;

3. Philosophy Through Science Fiction: A Coursebook with Readings, by Ryan Nichols, Nicholas D. Smith, Fred Miller. (It's an update of Thought probes: philosophy through science fiction literature.) Reviewed by Liz Stillwaggon Swan;

these two collections from Prometheus Books:

4. Philosophy and Science Fiction, ed. Michael Phillips;

5. Feminist Philosophy And Science Fiction: Utopias And Dystopias, ed. Judith A. Little; and...

Added (Oct. 13): 6. Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence, ed. Susan Schneider.

Next, there are several items by David Auerbach on his great Waggish blog (inc. 'SciFi novels for liberals' as well as posts on the Gollancz SF list, Olaf Stapledon's Flames, exceptional science fiction, and Gene Wolf).

Auerbach wrote an article about Thomas Disch at The Millions: 'The Prescient Science Fiction of Thomas M. Disch' (followed by an Appendix and a note on Disch's death at Waggish).

Here are two more especially apt items by Auerbach: one on Joanna Russ' 'We Who Are About To…'; the other on Robert Sheckley's 'Warm' (which Auerbach relates to P. F. Strawson's 'Freedom and Resentment'). 'Warm' is on Gutenberg.

Re. Sheckley, there is also this WaPo piece by Michael Dirda, as well as an item by Steve Danziger. One of Sheckley's stories, 'The Seventh Victim' (pdf), was the basis of The 10th Victim (with Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress).

There's some relevant material at Science Fiction Studies (here are some abstracts from a recent issue). This journal has made available the full texts of some old volumes; e.g., the Le Guin issue from 1975 and, from the same year, the Philip Dick volume (with contributions by Lem, Aldiss, and Fredric Jameson).

Also at Science Fiction Studies, one can find Roy Arthur Swanson's paper 'The True, the False, and the Truly False: Lucian’s Philosophical Science Fiction' (1976). Swanson was Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

There's some relevant material at Matthew Cheney's Mumpsimus. Cheney's an English professor who sometimes makes use of continental philosophy, as in this post about novels by M. John Harrison (which inc. references to Derrida and Deleuze).

At io9, there's a post by Charlie Jane Anders on 'The Philosophical Roots of Science Fiction'.

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