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History of the Future. Idea of the Course. Largely but not exclusively Science Fiction Claim: “Get used to the future, it is where you will be spending the rest of your life.” But, the future of SF is already historical “Classics” of field written in 1940s-60s Often draw on much older ideas

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History of the Future


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    Presentation Transcript
    1. History of the Future

    2. Idea of the Course • Largely but not exclusively Science Fiction • Claim: “Get used to the future, it is where you will be spending the rest of your life.” • But, the future of SF is already historical • “Classics” of field written in 1940s-60s • Often draw on much older ideas • So we can learn more about the past than the future

    3. “Science fiction was an historical literature… In every sf narrative, there is an explicit or inplicit fictional history that connects the period depicted to our present moment, or to some moment of our past” • Kim Stanley Robinson, 1992

    4. How Selected? • Has to be good • Most have won “Hugo” and/or Nebula award • Fit with themes and each other • All US (excepting Stapledon) • All set on Earth/Near Future (excepting Dune) • Even coverage of 1940s-1980s • A lot of good stuff missed out

    5. Origins of the Future • Utopian ideas • Plato • Moore • Scientific Revolution • Remaking of world – Newton, Copernicus • Intellectual progress • Industrial Revolution • HG Wells, Progress, Darwin

    6. 1936 epic Global war Fall of civilization Triumph of Science and World State Based on Wells’ book Things To Come

    7. Not exactly a novel First epic future history 19 species of mankind 3 planets hundreds of millions of years In tradition of HG Wells evolution & eugenics mysticism Last and First Men

    8. Science Fiction as Genre • American • Thrives 1920s-1960s • Based on magazines • Teenage boys • “Golden Age” • Asimov • Heinlein • Clarke

    9. Defining SF • SF vs Sci Fi vs Speculative Fiction • SF vs Fantasy (tech vs magic) • Some definitions • Based on Science? • What If? vs If This Goes On? • Set in the future? • Admits natural explanation?

    10. Tricky Cases • Fitting everything in • Alternate History • Impossible ideas • Faster than light travel • Telepathy • Suspension of disbelief • Not getting too much • Publishing category?

    11. 1940s Short Stories • The Green Hills of Earth" by Robert A. Heinlein • "The Roads Must Roll" by Robert A. Heinlein • "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke • "The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin • "Runaround" by Isaac Asimov • "Evidence" by Isaac Asimov

    12. Published 1953 Won first Hugo award Telepathy & Detectives Futuristic New York Writing very stylish by SF standards The Demolished Man

    13. Them! • Giant Mutant Ants Menace LA! • Cold war paranoia • Fear of radiation • 1953

    14. Three parts written 1955-1957 Life after nuclear war Religious History repeating itself Science & God 1961 Hugo winner A Canticle for Lebowitz

    15. Huge best seller Published 1963-1965 Won 1965 Hugo and first Nebula award Mixes elements Feudalism Ecology Politics SF established in books Dune

    16. 2001 • Epic • Long, Slow • Based on Clarke • Stapledon influenced • Mystic transcendence • Alien influence • Dawn of time to birth of star child

    17. Campy Sexist Parody Barbarella

    18. Ubik • Weird, Philosophical, Trashy • Nature of Reality • Drug culture meets 1950s • Written 1966 • Dick’s work filmed as • Blade Runner • Total Recall • Screamers

    19. Space Exploration Won 1976 Nebula Creation of cyborg for Marsmission Bleaker, more cynical Man Plus

    20. Neuromancer • Most influential SF novel of past 20 years • Won all awards • Cyberpunk • videogames • MTV • “street” culture • Virtual Reality

    21. Blade Runner • Cyberpunk setting meets Dick plot • Nature of humanity, empathy • 1982

    22. “Hard” Science Fiction Biotechnology Near future Transcendence Updating classic theme Nominated for Hugo, Nebula Blood Music

    23. More cyberpunk Hong Kong action moviemeets existential crisis Conceptual breakthrough The Matrix

    24. Relevance • The future is a very powerful idea • Advertising • Politics • Ideas of the future have changed our world • Engineers, computer scientists, NASA people • History is interesting