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Thursday, January 10, 2008

New sci fi journal focuses on sci phi

Jason Rennie of the excellent SciPhiShow writes to alert me to a new journal, Sci Phi:
Sci Phi is a term that combines the ideas of science fiction and philosophy. I first encountered the term myself in Mark Rowland’s work, “The Philosopher at the end of the Universe”, a book I would highly recommend as a starting place to anyone wishing to delve into these ideas themselves.

[ ... ]

In fact we should expect science fiction to provide an excellent vehicle for these sorts of ideas because it is able to explore, through the vehicle of advanced technology and other worldly creatures, ideas that would be difficult to communicate otherwise. Consider a film like Total Recall that confronts us with questions of personal identity and what makes you the person you are, something that would be impossible to do in the way it is done without this technology that allows memories to be erased and implanted in the way they are in the film. Who is Doug Quaid and what has become of Hauser? Perhaps this idea could be explored through a regular movie set in modern times, but not so deeply, and almost definitely without all of the action we see in a film like Total Recall.


Rennie, is quite right, of course, that science fiction is an excellent medium for discussing issues in the philosophy of science (an idea that goes back to the time of Plato, actually, and animates films from Star Trek to The Butterfly Effect, as well as Total Recall). Incidentally, one person who understands that well is Canadian science fiction great Rob Sawyer, whose Calculating God I review here. Also, a defense of multiverse theory underlies the film and book What the Bleep Do We Know?, which I review here. I will get to the others eventually, preferably after I have another book contract and can consider it “work.” So when I am vegging out watching sci fi/phi films, I am really “working” on my next book.

Sci Phi is only $7 per issue, a bargain at the price.

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