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Science Fiction - March 12.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Mike Johnstone

ENG237: Science Fiction Wilson, Spin - forms of response to the "end of the world" - hard SF and the SF sublime: we are not alone - the spin as metaphor of...? - the impossibility of (imagining) utopia? Forms of Response to the End of the World - science and religion both ways of responding to the spin - both forms of faith - science = trying to understand it - religion = the spin as a manifestation of god's will - the novel favors the scientific point of view - Tyler is a rational narrator - Jason most often explains (through Tyler) what is going on - religion ultimately comes to be seen through Simon - perhaps seen as naive, absurd, and hypocritical The idea of the "novum": everything that the characters do in the novel is affected by the reality of the Spin (the novum) - a central consequence of the spin is living with the knowledge of the end of the world - Molly's betrayal of Tyler and Jason is another way to react to the end of the world - her motives for betrayal is that she wants a "cleaner, better death" - her conscience doesn't matter to her anymore - all that she cares about is that final moment that she knows will come - in a way, Molly represents a lack of faith in either science or religion - she doesn't believe in any sort of heavenly intervention - she also doesn't think that science will find an answer - the normal moral and ethical systems of society are changing and being ignored Spin Paralysis - the acute awareness of humanity's end functions as an "impurity" on individual and social levels - is the concept/possibility of a future crucial to us/to being human? - on a biological level, in terms or reproducing--yes (even if I die, I can live on) - the idea of working towards things--implies yes - the idea of a future is what motivates us - it's a cultural obsession - along with individual attitudes to the end of the world, and cultural paralysis, there is the daily erosion of society - people behave badly - they rape, loot, kill, commit suicide, etc. - moments such as these show us the disillusion/entropy of the world--everything moving towards destruction - reversions - disregard of law and tradition - human society as itself (not just the planet) becomes dystopian - despite this, Tyler mentions acts of civility - civility implies civilization - the process of entropy, steady disillusionment of civilization - on the one hand--is the idea of a future crucial to what it means to be human? - is it only civilization that keeps humanity from turning upon itself? is this what the novel suggests? - is civilization crucial to what we are as humans? - the time of life that is taken away is the "punishment" for doing bad things - it's hard to justify doing good when there is no future - is an idea of civilization crucial to what makes us human? Hard SF and the SF Sublime: WeAre NotAlone - the aesthetics of the novel can be related to its ideological view - what is the significance of Jason's discourse when he describes the process of terraforming Mars (and other scientific processes?) - there is a lot of scientific rhetoric - discourse of wars - mention of time - mention of "destiny", of the future, of evolution - it is somewhat unemotional - what is the significance of Jason's point of view/voice? - technical language--hard SF (why is this important?) - does the novel lean towards Jason's perspective? - humanity can play god--but scientifically - response to the end of the world--Jason has faith that this can be done/happen (through science) - Jason is our means of explanation - Tyler constantly turns to Jason for explanation Kathryn Cramer: "a work of sf is hard sf if a relationship to and knowledge of science and technology is central to the work.... Before science can be incorporated into hard sf, it must be stripped of its mathematical bones, so that--how matter how accurate the text--science is used as a mythology. What science gives to hard sf is a body of metaphor that provides the illusion of both realism and rationalism. By reputation, hard sf is science fiction that gets its science right and has a certain hard-nosed attitude...." - stories based on plausible science - idea fiction - crucial aesthetic to sci
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