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Literature and Science: Science Fiction

A presentation on the interlocking of literature and science in the form of the science fiction genre. Presentation for CL 100 (Second Semester A.Y. 2012-2013) class in the University of the Philippines - Diliman.

Geanne Flores

on 7 February 2013

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Transcript of Literature and Science: Science Fiction

Science Fiction Literature and Science Science Fiction Common Themes in Science Fiction Experimentation Space Travel Time Travel Robotics/Cyborgs "...branch of literature which is concerned with the impact of scientific advance upon human beings..." Experimentation
Time Travel
Space Travel
Robotics/Cyborgs The Time Machine (1895) The Skylark of Space (1946) Asimov's Robots -Isaac Asimov
Modern Science Fiction (1953) science fiction deals with

CHANGE science fiction



developments "Let's gather up the bits and pieces and define the Simon-pure science fiction story: Robert A. Heinlein 5. And lastly, no established fact shall be violated, and, furthermore, when the story requires that a theory contrary to present accepted theory be used, the new theory should be rendered reasonably plausible and it must include and explain established facts as satisfactorily as the one the author saw fit to junk. It may be far-fetched, it may seem fantastic, but it must not be at variance with observed facts, i.e., if you are going to assume that the human race descended from Martians, then you've got to explain our apparent close relationship to terrestrial anthropoid apes as well." 4. The human problem must be one which is created by, or indispensably affected by, the new conditions. 3. The problem itself—the "plot"—must be a human problem. 2. The new conditions must be an essential part of the story. 1. The conditions must be, in some respect, different from here-and-now, although the difference may lie only in an invention made in the course of the story. "Science fiction is something that could happen - but you usually wouldn't want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn't happen - though you often only wish that it could." -Arthur C. Clarke science fiction is

grounded on reason and science Frankenstein (1818) considered to be one of the earlier forms of science fiction.
about a scientist who created life and was horrified with what he'd made.
questions human curiosity and how far it should go. Scientific background: The creation of the Frankenstein monster was acheived through methods of science (chemistry) and alchemy.
During this time period (1818), discoveries were being made, electricity being one of them. This was reflected as the lightning bolt that gave the spark of life to the Frankenstein monster. The "Mad" Scientist A character archetype that was popularized by the novel, Frankenstein.

Usually an eccentric man with a ridiculously huge amount of knowledge, especially when it comes to science, and has the drive to create radical experiments. Themes are usually about 'playing god',
and the consequences of doing so. Off-shoots:
Zombies/Reanimation story of a scientist who uses a machine to travel through time.
dystopian future
time travel as a challenge to the deterministic nature of time.
the degeneration of mankind into savagery. Scientific background: the notion of time travel is currently impossible, but has been left to theoretical physics.
during the time of writing this, the theories that make time travel possible did not exist yet. (i.e. wormholes, multiverse theory, etc.) Time Machines Time machines are devices or inventions which allow
time-travel. Themes in time travel usually involve:
altering the past or future
spinning off of alternate timelines
rewriting history
discovering the "true" cause of a historical event
arriving in a post-apocalyptic/dystopian future. The Dystopian Future a post-apocalyptic future
a war-torn wasteland
a seemingly ideal futuristic world but with a hidden, but thriving system of corruption. Time Paradoxes Suppose you were to travel back in time, and you somehow killed your grandfather before he met your grandmother.
This would mean that one of your parents wouldn't be born. Consequently, you wouldn't be born.
But if you weren't born, you wouldn't be able to go back in time to kill your grandfather. The Grandfather Paradox Bootstrap Paradox Allows for objects to exist without having been created.
The term originated from Robert A. Heinlein's story, "By His Bootstraps".
A bootstrap paradox is also called an ontological paradox, describing the nature where a time-displaced object eventually causes its creation or becomes itself. Off-shoots:
Alternate timelines
Time dilation
Time perception Two scientists discovery of metal 'X', which allows matter to energy conversion.
Opposing scientists: corporate scientist vs. academic scientist.
Travel through space using vessels/spacecraft.
Other planets which may have living inhabitants. Scientific background: Acceleration and relativity
Existence of other planets Spacecraft/Space ships Vessels that travel space. May range from
exploration ships to army ships. Aliens/Extraterrestrial Life Ever since science fiction explored the possibilities of another habitable planet, science fiction authors have never ceased to imagine what extraterrestrial lifeforms may look like. Themes of space travel are mostly on exploration,
discovery and anything beyond earth and humanity. Before Asimov, fiction involving artificial intellience were of the Frankenstein monster variety (the creation that turns on its creator).
Asimov proposed three laws of robotics which he incorporated into his 'Robot' series. Three Laws of Robotics by Isaac Asimov A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. Asimov also added a fourth or zeroth law, which took precedence over the three laws:
A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. The term 'cyborg' is short for cybernetic organism.
A cyborg is different from a robot because while a robot is completely mechanical/electronic, a cyborg is part organic, part machine.
A cyborg may be a human with a mechanical or electronic prosthesis. Cyborgs Themes:
relationship of man and machine
quest for identity
freedom vs. uniformity Scientific Background
The concept of the robot was derived from the automata.
Today, robots are being made to perform tasks that may be too hazardous for humans. References: Clarke, A. C. (2001). The collected stories of Arthur C. Clarke.
New York: Tom Doherty Associates.

Heinlein, R. A., & Eshbach, L. A. (1964). Of worlds beyond: The science of science fiction writing : a symposium. Chicago, Ill: Advent Publishers.

Landon, B. (2002). Science fiction after 1900: From the steam man to the stars.
New York: Routledge.

Suvin, D. (1988). Positions and presuppositions in science fiction.
Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press.
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