Our scholars have written about the knowledge encoded in speculative fiction, the science that informs the stories, the philosophies revealed in these pages. The articles selected for the first issue of James Gunn’s Ad Astra show us how our understanding of evolution is used in speculative fiction, how stories about even the most far-flung futures commune with the myths of our past, and how the reality of mutation and changing genes is reflected in science fiction.
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- Human Evolution as a Framework for the Themes of Science Fiction - by Jean Asselin — This article integrates previous discussions of theme into a system to classify the literature of Science Fiction (SF). Its aim is to provide a set of tools by which themes are: (1) used to communicate the relevance of SF; (2) organized under a structure that distinguishes SF themes from SF subgenres; (3) applied to categorize SF literature in databases, thus enabling further quantitative research such as trends analysis or gender issues; and (4) recognized as future speculation on ancient concerns stemming from humanity’s evolution as a species.
- Fantastic Journeys of the Mythic Kind - by Sheila Finch — Much of the best science fiction draws on mythic themes and tropes, sometimes consciously on the part of the author, to apply this wisdom to its dreams about tomorrow. In doing so, science fiction acknowledges that while the environment we find ourselves in may change, the element that makes us human will not. This paper concentrates on one core myth, the Hero’s fantastic journey, as it is used or referred to in science fiction from Jules Verne to the recent work of Mary Doria Russell.
- Mutation and Infertility in Science Fiction - by Victor Grech, et al. — Mutation in the Science Fiction (SF) genre is viewed with revulsion as it results in strange beings, threatening monsters and alien others. Infertility is a common problem, worldwide, that will eventually affect up to a third of couples. This paper will discuss the role of mutation in nature and provide an overview of mutations resulting in infertility in SF. The science behind some of the narratives will be explained while extrapolations that exceed reasonable poetic license will be pointed out.
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