In this highly original book, Russell Blackford discusses the intersection of science fiction and humanity's moral imagination. With the rise of science and technology in the 19th century, and our continually improving understanding of the cosmos, writers and thinkers soon began to imagine futures greatly different from the present. Science fiction was born out of the realization that future technoscientific advances could dramatically change the world. Along with the developments described in modern science fiction - space societies, conscious machines, and upgraded human bodies, to name but a few - come a new set of ethical challenges and new forms of ethics. Blackford identifies these issues and their reflection in science fiction. His fascinating book will appeal to anyone with an interest in philosophy or science fiction, or in how they interact.
"This is a seasoned, balanced analysis of a major issue in our thinking about the future, seen through the lens of science fiction, a central art of our time. Everyone from humanists to technologists should study these ideas and examples. Blackford's book is wise and savvy, and a delight to read as well."
Greg Benford, author of Timescape.
Russell Blackford is an Australian writer, philosopher, and literary critic, based in Newcastle, NSW. He is Conjoint Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, a Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Evolution and Technology, a regular op.ed. columnist with Free Inquiry, and a Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.
From 2004-2009 he taught a wide range of subjects in the philosophy and bioethics curriculum at Monash University. In addition to several novels, he is author of several acclaimed nonfiction books including: Humanity Enhanced (MIT Press, 2014); 50 Great Myths About Atheism, co-authored with Udo Schuklenk (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013); and Freedom of Religion and the Secular State (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). Of that book, A.C. Grayling says: "This is a must-read: Blackford has given us a forceful and persuasive book that will have a big impact on the debate it addresses."
Blackford has debated on national radio and television in Australia. Other major appearances in recent years have included presentations at The Amazing Meeting Las Vegas in and the World Humanist Congress in Oxford. He posts at The Conversation's Cogito blog and on his personal blog, Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
Introduction: Science and the Rise of Science Fiction.- Science Fiction: A Short History of a Literary Genre.- Morality, Science Fiction, and Enabling Forr.- Future and Alien Moralities.- Technophiles, Technophobes, and Renegades.- Aliens, Robots, Mutants, and Others.- Going Inward: Science Fiction and Human Enhancement.- Conclusion: Great Power and Great Responsibility.- Appendix: Chronological List of Works Discussed.- Index.