Unsettling Scientific Stories

Blogging the History of the Future

January 10, 2017
Amy C. Chambers

Westworld: Imagined Futures and Re/imagined Pasts

Author: Amy C. Chambers


Westworld was my favourite series of 2016. It presented a rich science fiction future that managed to be fresh and exciting despite being a remake based upon a 1973 movie by the same title. It had and continues to have lots of opportunities for developing exciting and prescient narrative that can be explored in what I hope will be a long running series. I was mesmerised from the opening credits, which I wrote about hereWestworld played around with time and I will have to rewatch all ten episodes as I attempt to distinguish between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’, and past, present and/or future.

 

**The following post contains spoilers**

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October 5, 2016
Amy C. Chambers

Science & Future World Building in Westworld’s Credit Sequence

Author: Amy C. Chambers


Westworld finally got its UK premier last night. It seemed like an eternity between the US release and our chance to explore, and I successfully navigated the minefield of avoiding spoilers and opinions on the first episode that might interfere with my own initial response (and enjoyment). The first episode wasn’t perfect – I wanted more, but it was necessary to give over time and space for worldbuilding (both the Western theme-park and the futuristic workplace) and introducing the basic concept of the show. It’s based on the 1973 SF-Western movie Westworld written and directed by science fiction writer Michael Crichton (Jurassic ParkAndromeda StrainDisclosure), it was Crichton’s first foray in directing, and it famously stars Yul Brynner as a killer-robot called ‘The Gunslinger’. The film and now the HBO TV series is set in a near-future adult amusement park where the super-rich can pay ($40,000/day) for an immersive storyworld ‘holiday’ where they can do use the robots as they please to act out their wildest Wild West fantasies. (more…)

September 21, 2016
Iwan Morus

A Boy’s Own Radium

Author: Iwan Rhys Morus


A few years ago, during one of our occasional forays to Hay on Wye and its second hand bookshops, I came across a boys’ adventure novel called The Radium Casket, published in 1926 (by Oxford University Press – I had no idea they published such things, though a few seconds research showed me how wrong I was: https://global.oup.com/education/children). Obviously, no historian of physics was going to leave something like that in a bookshop, so I bought it. It’s a classic imperialist yarn, set in China in the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion. The British hero rescues a Chinese fugitive from his attackers and the dying man bequeaths him a mysterious casket filled with a strange silvery metal that turns out to have some peculiar properties. (more…)

July 12, 2016
Amy C. Chambers

OSIRIS 2019 | Presenting Past Futures: SF and the History of Science

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We’re very pleased and proud to announce that volume 34 of Osiris will be edited by Amanda Rees (University of York) and Iwan Morus (Aberystwyth University).
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June 13, 2016
Amanda Rees

Species, Race, Slavery: SF Literature and Defining Humanity

Author: Amanda Rees


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By their works, you shall know them…according to Vercors (the war-time pen name of French writer, Jean Bruller). His 1952 novel, Les Animaux dénaturés, opens with the death of a baby in Guildford. The father, who has arranged for the infant’s birth to be registered and for him to be baptised – thus ensuring that both Church and State recognise the child’s existence – is the killer: the mother, on the other hand, is a member of the species Paranthropus erectus (a genus of extinct hominins). So, is the father a murderer?

 

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