Issues

Issues

The Blue Pill Dilemma: Is Knowledge a Blessing or a Curse?

Vol 3 (2020)

The question about choosing between harsh truths or willful ignorance is as old as Plato’s Cave; older perhaps, down to the Tree of Good and Evil. Science Fiction writers can be as illuminating as they can be ambiguous. In the original Matrix Neo took the Red Pill, choosing Truth – and got himself into a world of trouble. Wouldn’t the Blue Pill (of “Ignorance is Bliss”) have served him better? This volume examines the double-edged quality of knowledge, as explored in a variety of SF scenarios. Can a truth cause more harm than a lie? Can we live in self-deception? Is there a danger of knowing too much? Is knowledge something inherently good, worth seeking for its own sake, is it just a neutral tool, or is it, perhaps, something better left alone?

Dystopian Caves and Galactic Empires: Social and Political Philosophy in SF Stories

Vol 2 (2019)

One of the main roles of science fiction has been to warn us (sometimes humorously, sometimes through grim pessimism) of looming social dangers, the product of particular ideas, technologies or social trends. Just how powerful these warnings can be in the public’s imagination may be gauged by the ubiquity of the expression “Big Brother” in political reflection. Occasionally, too, SF has been used to propose somewhat utopian forms of organization. The goal of our 2019 Yearly Theme is to promote a critical discussion of these themes.

All Persons Great and Small: The Notion of Personhood in SF

Vol 1 (2018)

SF stories are in a unique position to help us examine the concept of personhood, by making the human  world engage with a bewildering variety of beings with person-like qualities – aliens of bizarre shapes and customs, artificial constructs conflicted about their artificiality, planetary-wide intelligences, collective minds, and the list goes on. Every one of these instances provides the opportunity to reflect on specific aspects of the notion of personhood, such as, for example: What is a person? What are its defining qualities? What is the connection between personhood and morality, identity, rationality, basic (“human?”) rights? What patterns do SF authors identify when describing the oppression of one group of persons by another, and how do they reflect past and present human history?