Philosophy of future history

mars

“Science fiction is a historical literature because the theoretical act or the imaginative act that you perform is to postulate some kind of a future. The thing that makes it other than fantasy is the inclusion of a history connecting that future back to our present moment. Having provided that history, either explicitly in the text or implicitly, you are also providing a theory of history, unavoidably. You have to suggest what you think are the most powerful determinants, and also a philosophy of history is expressed, by whether you portray history as something that can be planned and consciously worked out to make things better in a kind of enlightenment mode, or whether it’s just so contingent and filled with inexplicable events that it’s out of our control …

“All aspects of a philosophy of history end up expressed in any given single science fiction novel, even if they are merely part of the armature of the subtext. And if you care to play with these things specifically, then you can begin to make statements in the form of imaginative experiments or thought experiments: “If this is the correct theory of history then we should see something like this.” Then you write it out in a concrete form. It’s often in the novelistic detail of the text where you begin to believe or disbelieve in the theory that’s being expressed, because it seems coherent, convincing, likely or plausible, etc…”

Writing Against Reality: Rjurik Davidson talks speculative fiction with Kim Stanley Robinson and China Miéville, from Overland Literary Journal.

Image: Mission to Mars – Scott Listfield, via Fine Art America

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