Science Fiction and Computing

Essays on Interlinked Domains

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About the Book

The prevalence of science fiction readership among those who create and program computers is so well-known that it has become a cliché, but the phenomenon has remained largely unexplored by scholars. What role has science fiction played in the actual development of computers and computing? And likewise, how has computing (including the related fields of robotics and artificial intelligence) affected the course of science fiction? The 18 essays in this critical work explore the interrelationship of these domains over the span of more than half a century.

About the Author(s)

David L. Ferro is an associate professor of computer science at Weber State University. He has published on both science fiction and real-world computer science.
Award-winning author Eric G. Swedin is an associate professor of information systems & technologies at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by David L. Ferro and Eric G. Swedin
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 327
Bibliographic Info: 12 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4565-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8933-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Introduction by David L. Ferro      1

1. Technology’s Other Storytellers: Science Fiction as History of Technology
THOMAS HAIGH      13
2. Computers in Science Fiction: Anxiety and Anticipation
CHRIS PAK      38
3. Murray Leinster and “A Logic Named Joe”
ERIC G. SWEDIN AND DAVID L. FERRO      54
4. Atorox, a Finnish Fictional Robot with a Changing Personality in the Late 1940s
JAAKKO SUOMINEN      68
5. Computer Science on the Planet Krypton
GARY WESTFAHL      83
6. Manned Space Flight and Artificial Intelligence: “Natural” Trajectories of Technology
PAUL E. CERUZZI      95
7. “That Does Not Compute”: The Brittleness Bottleneck and the Problem of Semantics in Science Fiction
LISA NOCKS      117
8. “Hello, Computer”: The Interplay of Star Trek and Modern Computing
JOSHUA CUNEO      131
9. Turn Off the Gringo Machine! The “Electronic Brain” and Cybernetic Imagination in Brazilian Cinema
ALFREDO SUPPIA      148
10. A (Brave New) World Is More Than a Few Gizmos Crammed Together: Science Fiction and Cyberculture
THIERRY BARDINI      167
11. True Risks? The Pleasures and Perils of Cyberspace
JANET ABBATE      189
12. Science Fiction as Myth: Cultural Logic in Gibson’s Neuromancer
R.C. ALVARADO      205
13. Creating a Techno-Mythology for a New Age: The Production History of The Lawnmower Man
DAVID A. KIRBY      214
14. Embodiment, Emotion, and Moral Experiences: The Human and the Machine in Film
HUNTER HEYCK      230
15. “Predicting the Present”: Overclocking Doctorow’s Overclocked
GRAHAM J. MURPHY      249
16. “Low on Milk. I Love You!”
HOWARD TAYLOR      264
17. Nanotechnology Tomorrows: Nanocritters and Other Tiny Things in Science Fiction
RICHARD L. MCKINNEY      273
18. Imagining the Omniscient Computer DAVID TOOMEY 289

About the Contributors      301
Index      305