Help us choose next year’s theme for the Journal!
Dear Readers and Contributors:
The Journal of Science Fiction and Philosophy has just launched its newest issue! It is presently a small volume, with just a couple of articles; we have some articles under review and in preparation, which will continue populating this issue as they get published. Please take a look at www.jsfphil.org .
One unexpected difficulty we encountered during the preparation of our second volume was that only a small ratio of articles addressed our Yearly Theme, “Social and Political Philosophy in SF.” So we decided to make next year’s Call for Papers a collaborative affair. You will find below a list of prospective themes for the 2020 volume. All authors, reviewers and registered readers are invited to vote! (Although authors may be among the most interested, if you are planning an article that fits any of these themes). If you send us additional ideas, we will include them into next year’s prospective list.
What will our next Yearly Theme be?
- “Surveillance Capitalism” and the New Panopticon. This is a growing concern (and if you haven’t heard the expression, you probably will, soon). I don’t want to define it too narrowly, but it has to do with the online giants wanting to know everything we do—for profit—and us volunteering that information—for convenience. It has been recently explored in Black Mirror, and the oddly ambiguous The Circle, but it was advanced already in the memorable chase scene in Fahrenheit 451.
- Bioethics in Science Fiction: Addressing genetic technologies, “bio-enhancements,” “moral” enhancements, life-extending technologies, to name a few issues.
- Technology: Savior or Destroyer? Addressing one of the favorite topics of SF authors since at least Frankenstein. (Of course, this theme is already present in most of the other proposals.)
- Should We Fear Artificial Intelligence? For this theme we would introduce a constraint: articles should focus only on instances of AI “done right” (or mostly right) in SF. (Most of AI in science fiction is done very “loosey gosey”, as a plot device and to introduce interesting questions about personhood and the value of humanness. But occasionally authors pay closer attention to how computers actually work; my examples would be Clarke’s 2001—the novel—and the recent videogame The Turing Test.)
- Is Knowledge a Blessing or a Curse? This question may sound strange for philosophers, but some SF stories develop interesting ambiguities in this matter—think of the cycles of self-destruction in A Canticle for Leibowitz, or some questions posed by Star Trek’s “The Cage” and “The Apple.”
These topics incorporate some themes suggested by our contributors (e.g. an issue dedicated to the Canticle for Leibowitz or to the ongoing Westworld series), which are probably too specific at this stage. In the future we would also like to dedicate some issues to particularly important SF authors, but again, this shall wait until we have developed the necessary critical mass.
Thank you for your interest, and I look forward to your responses! Just send us an email with your input, (editor.jsfphil atgmail.com) and any additional comments.
Voting will be open until midnight, July 19th.
— The Editor