The role of fiction in interpreting the world has become an increasingly important topic for many of the human sciences in recent years. This volume of Osiris focuses on the relationship between a particular genre of story-telling – science fiction, told through a variety of media – and the history of science. The protagonists of these two apparently distinct enterprises actually have a lot in common. Both are oriented towards the (re)construction of unfamiliar worlds; both are fascinated by the ways in which natural and social systems interact; both are critically aware of the different ways in which the social (class, gender, race, sex, species) has inflected the experience of the scientific. Taking a global approach, this volume will investigate these inter-relationships in four distinct ways:
- Defining: using science fiction to investigate the cultural status and authority afforded to the category ‘science’ at different times and by different human communities
- Mediating: examining the role of SF in exploring specific scientific disciplines, topics or cultures and in moving scientific concepts, methodologies and practices between wider cultural arenas
- Constructing: exploring what SF can tell us about the histories of how different communities have envisaged their futures, and thus how it conveys the socio-scientific concerns of past presents
- Developing: considering how SF has and could function as a resource through which historians and laypeople alike can conceptualise the context and consequences of scientific change
We look forward very much to discussing these and other issues with current contributors and our other colleagues – please email Amanda Rees or comment below if you have suggestions!