Vol. 4 (2021): The Day that Coronavirus Stopped the Earth! What Do We Learn About Pandemics in Science Fiction Stories?

Vol. 4 (2021) Cover

For nearly two centuries science fiction authors have been playing around with an enormous variety of pandemic scenarios. While some stories focus on attempts to avert them, many explore their catastrophic consequences, or the plight of victims and survivors in-between, and the ways in which the most trivial daily routines and the simple facts of life we take for granted may be critically, perhaps permanently disrupted. From eerily prophetic accounts of origin and spread (Stephen Soderbergh’s Contagion) to post-apocalyptic tales of heart-wrenching loneliness (Francis Lawrence’s I Am Legend), SF stories anticipate the plight that humanity is facing during the COVID pandemic. This volume invites us to reflect on the lessons from science fiction stories, and how they help us illuminate philosophically our present times.

Published: 2021-06-01 (June 1, 2021)

Yearly Theme (Peer-Reviewed)

I Am Legend as Philosophy: Imagination in Times of Pandemic… A Mutation towards a “Second Reality”?

Rachad Elidrissi

<null> me <null>: Algorithmic Governmentality and the Notion of Subjectivity in Project Itoh’s Harmony

Fatemeh Savaedi and Maryam Alavi Nia

Learning from COVID-19: Virtue Ethics, Pandemics and Environmental Degradation: A case study reading of The Andromeda Strain (1971) and Contagion (2011)

Fiachra O’Brolcháin and Pat Brereton

General Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

“What is my purpose?” Artificial Sentience Having an Existential Crisis in Rick and Morty

Alexander Maxwell

Is Alex Redeemable? A Clockwork Orange as a Philosophical-Literary Platonic Fable

Jones Irwin

Book Reviews

Absent Rebels: Criticism and Network Power in 21st Century Dystopian Fiction. (Narr Francke Attempto, 2021)

Anna Campbell


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?


Editor’s Notes: The Blue Pill Dilemma

Alfredo Mac Laughlin

Yearly Theme (Peer-Reviewed)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Memory Erasure, and the Problem of Personal Identity

Giorgina Samira Paiella

Towards a Biological Explanation of Sin in Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz

Christopher Ketcham

Solving the Contact Paradox: Rational Belief in the Teeth of the Evidence

Thomas Vinci

Subversion and the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis in Contemporary Science Fiction

Can Koparan

General Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Science Fictional Feminist Daoism

Ethan Mills

Book Reviews

Planet of the Apes and Philosophy: Great Apes Think Alike. (Open Court, 2013)

Stefano Bigliardi

Dune and Philosophy: Weirding the Way of the Mentat. (Open Court, 2011)

Brittany Caroline Speller

Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016)

Stefano Bigliardi

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.

Editorial Notes

Editor’s Notes Time, Tenacity and Technophobia

Alfredo Mac Laughlin

Yearly Theme (Peer-Reviewed)

Living in a Marxist Sci-Fi World: A Phenomenological Analysis of the Power of Science Fiction.

Matías Graffigna

Political Myths in Plato and Asimov

Nathaniel Goldberg

General Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

Gallifrey Falls No More: Doctor Who’s Ontology of Time

Kevin S. Decker

“We Don’t Know Exactly How They Work”: Making Sense of Technophobia in 1973 Westworld, Futureworld, and Beyond Westworld

Stefano Bigliardi

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?

Editorial Notes

Editor’s Notes: Vol. 1 (2018)

Alfredo Mac Laughlin

Yearly Theme (Peer-Reviewed)

Aesthetics in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Jerold J. Abrams

Moreau’s Law in “The Island of Doctor Moreau” in Light of Kant’s Reciprocity Thesis

Dan Paul Dal Monte

Carving a Life from Legacy: Free Will and Manipulation in Greg Egan’s “Reasons to Be Cheerful”

Taylor W. Cyr

Persons and a Metaphysics of the Navel

Dennis M. Weiss

The Creolizing Genre of SF and the Nightmare of Whiteness in John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?”

Bernabe S. Mendoza

The Education Station: Teaching with SF

Teaching Firefly

James Rocha

Teaching Firefly: Companion Material. A Class Schedule for a Course on Joss Whedon and Philosophy

James Rocha

Book Reviews

Westworld and Philosophy: If You Go Looking for the Truth Get the Whole Thing

Stefano Bigliardi