Storm Warnings: Science Fiction Confronts the Future

Storm Warnings: Science Fiction Confronts the Future

Storm Warnings: Science Fiction Confronts the Future

Storm Warnings: Science Fiction Confronts the Future

Synopsis

These 17 original essays, written for the sixth Eaton Conference on Fantasy and Science Fiction, explore the uses, origins, and forms of future fiction. The contributors are George E. Slusser, Paul Alkon, Marie-Hélène Huet, Howard V. Hendrix, Bradford Lyau, Gregory Benford, José Manuel Mota, Frederik Pohl, George Hay, Colin Greenland, John Huntington, Elizabeth Maslen, W. M. S. and Claire Russell, T. A. Shippey, Kenneth V. Bailey, Gary Kern, and Frank McConnell. The essays address the question "Do we call up images of future societies in order to prepare for them, or to forestall their ever coming into existence?"

Excerpt

Too often in the scholarly world essays are written as if they were miniature books, self-contained structures that in turn generate a larger, equally self-contained structure. Originally, however, an essay was an attempt, a suggestive, exploratory form whose nature was open and speculative. This volume of seventeen true essays, individual but interresponsive attempts to explore the nature of our fictions of the future, constitutes a gestalt of collective scholarship.

These essays examine the origins, forms, and, finally, the uses of our fictions of the future. On closer examination, however, these forms and uses in many cases constitute strategies for closure-- specific ideas of the future used to limit our sense of a genuinely open future. Some are attempts to ground our imagining of the future in present conditions: social pressures, mental alienation, or historically determined epistemologies such as scientific "optimism" or humanist "pessimism." In and among these are attempts to argue for open futures. Nevertheless, overall and increasingly, openness is restricted, the science fictional sense of wonder qualified by a pessimism which strives, it seems, to be the dominant ideology of adumbrating the future. But no conclusions are drawn. What this symposium offers is a spectrum of possibilities, a broad variety of responses to the question of the future and how we frame it. The power to respond is vital; perhaps SF itself is, first and last, a system of response. For the human makers of fictions, no matter how absolute the hold of past or present may seem, there must be a future as well.

The relation of a text to its present--the circumstances of its conception, composition, production, and reception--are complex . . .

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