Orthodox science fiction and fictional worlds

Bateman, Chris ORCID: 0000-0003-1627-8392 (2011) Orthodox science fiction and fictional worlds. In: 6th Global Conference Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture, Cyberspace and Science Fiction, Tuesday 12th July 2011 – Thursday 14th July 2011, Mansfield College, Oxford. (Unpublished)

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The term ‘hard science fiction’ is used to demarcate a subgenre within science fiction which focuses on scientific or technical detail, or scientific accuracy. However, science fiction is ultimately a form of fantasy and since (as Kuhn and others have demonstrated) the instruments and beliefs of scientists are in a constant state of adaptation to the needs of the culture they are situated within, ‘hard science fiction’ cannot denote anything objective. Preference for this subgenre appears to coincide with conservative physicalist beliefs, which may border on the doctrinaire. Charles Segal coined the term megatext to refer to the Greek myths when taken collectively to imply a single fictional world, and this term is now used to apply to science fiction and fantasy settings of various kinds (e.g. Star Trek, Marvel Comics). Science fiction as a whole may also be recognised as a megatext, and ‘hard science fiction’ constitutes a subset of this megatext. In the context of religion, constraints placed on a mythological megatext is often specified by the term ‘orthodox’; in a similar manner, ‘hard science fiction’ can be understood as orthodox science fiction – a doctrinal constraint placed on a mythological megatext accreting around technical rather than spiritual themes. The philosopher Charles Taylor observes that Western culture is currently experiencing a phenomenal diversification of belief, the two polar extremes of which are orthodox religion and orthodox physicalism. Most individuals lie in middle ground, affected (consciously or otherwise) by the cultural influence of both poles. The fictional worlds of the former are expressed in the mythology contained in certain sacred texts; the fictional worlds of the latter are expressed in science fiction. Orthodoxy in science fiction thus mirrors orthodoxy in religious stories, and can be understood via comparative mythology in the style of Joseph Campbell as making both ethical and metaphysical assertions.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Paper given in Session 6: Literatures of Cyberspace I of the 6th Global Conference Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture, 2011.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Science fiction, fictional worlds, mythology, megatext, paradigm, religion, positivism
Divisions: School of Creative Technologies > Games Computing and software engineering
Depositing User: Tracey Gill
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2016 12:05
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2018 10:03
URI: http://ubir.bolton.ac.uk/id/eprint/792

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