Speculative Approaches to Consciousness in Science Fiction

  • David Ben Leavitt


In 1952, Isaac Asimov defined science fiction as “that branch of literature which is concerned with the impact of scientific advance upon human beings” (in Allen, 1971, p. 263). In the same year (1952), James Blish (1964) quoted Theodore Sturgeon’s definition of a good science fiction story: “a story built around human beings, with a human problem, and a human solution, which would not have happened at all without its scientific content” (p. 14). Even in the heart of the second age of modern science fiction,1 its authors were looking beyond the immediate concerns of plot, gadget, and adventure and were beginning to realize that science fiction was the most appropriate literary medium for looking at the human condition, not as it was but as it might be. Science fiction was truly becoming the literature of possibility:

Our minds are finite, and yet even in these circumstances of finitude we are surrounded by possibilities that are infinite, and the purpose of human life is to grasp as much as we can out of that infinitude. (Whitehead, 1953, p. 163)

Science fiction helps mankind to grasp that infinitude, to apprehend the nature of existence itself. Because science fiction is bounded only by the constraint of what could be, it is able to examine everything—and what better to examine than that which is doing the examining itself: human consciousness?


Motion Picture Science Fiction Human Consciousness Solar Station Prime Directive 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Ben Leavitt

There are no affiliations available

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