Science Fiction and the Two Cultures

Essays on Bridging the Gap Between the Sciences and the Humanities

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About the Book

Essays in this volume demonstrate how science fiction can serve as a bridge between the sciences and the humanities. The essays show how early writers like Dante and Mary Shelley revealed a gradual shift toward a genuine understanding of science; how H.G. Wells first showed the possibilities of combining scientific and humanistic perspectives; how writers influenced by Gernsback’s ideas, like Isaac Asimov, illustrated the ways that literature could interact with science and assist in its progress; and how more recent writers offer critiques of science and its practitioners.

About the Author(s)

Gary Westfahl retired from the University of California, Riverside, is an adjunct professor at the University of La Verne. He earned the Science Fiction Research Association’s Pilgrim Award for his lifetime contributions to science fiction and fantasy scholarship and is the author, editor, or coeditor of more than 20 books about science fiction and fantasy.
George Slusser is a professor emeritus of comparative literature at the University of California, Riverside. The longtime curator of the famed Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, he also earned the Pilgrim Award for his numerous scholarly books.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Gary Westfahl and George Slusser. Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 290
Bibliographic Info: tables, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4297-3
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Introduction: Science Fiction at the Crossroads of Two Cultures

GARY WESTFAHL      1

I. OVERVIEWS: SCIENCE FICTION IN THE CONTEXT OF TWO CULTURES

1. Science Fiction and the Two Cultures: Reflections after the Snow-Leavis Controversy

CARL FREEDMAN      11

2. Science Fiction, Mediating Agent between C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures: A Historical Interpretation

BRADFORD LYAU      22

3. Fighting Out of Context: Culture Wars Within and Without Science Fiction, from Snow to Sokal

HOWARD V. HENDRIX      37

4. A Tale of Two Cultures: Science Studies and Science Fiction

STEPHEN POTTS      49

5. The Rich and the Poor: Science Fiction and the Other Two Cultures

GARY WESTFAHL      67

6. The Science of Fiction and the Fiction of Science: A Storytelling Animal in an Inhospitable World

FRANK MCCONNELL      86

7. Dimorphs and Doubles: J. D. Bernal’s “Two Cultures” and the Transhuman Promise

GEORGE SLUSSER      96

II. CASE STUDIES: SCIENCE FICTION AS AN EXPRESSION OF TWO CULTURES

8. Discontinuity: Spaceships at the Abyss

CAROL MACKAY and KIRK HAMPTON      131

9. Gregory Benford’s Against Infinity and the Literary, Historical and Geometric Formation of the Encyclopedic Circle of Knowledge

PEKKA KUUSISTO      140

10. Utopia and Utopianism in the Life, Work, and Thought of H. G. Wells

JOHN S. PARTINGTON      160

11. The Alien Eye: Imperialism and Otherness in H. G. Wells’s The First Men in the Moon

GARETH DAVIES-MORRIS      170

12. Killer Robots, Laws of Robotics, and Pernicious Humans

GEORGE ATKINS      185

13. Philip K. Dick’s Conversion Narrative

NOAH MASS      196

14. The Terror of Nature Not Understood: Science, Mysticism, and the Unknowable in Don DeLillo’s Ratner’s Star/I>

JAKE JAKAITIS      209

15. When the Caesura Ceases: Two Romanian Authors Gauge the Place of Writers in the Age of Computers

SHARON D. KING      219

16. A Creature of Double Vision

GREGORY BENFORD      228

Afterword: Science Fiction and the Playing Fields of Eaton

GARY WESTFAHL      237

Bibliography of Works Related to Science Fiction and the Two Cultures Debate      247

Bibliography of Other Works Cited in the Text      258

About the Contributors      271

Index      275

Book Reviews & Awards

“recommended”—Choice.