science as servant

A 1946 advertisement for the ↑Bendix Corporation, scanned and put online by Paul Malon—↑click for larger versions, in order to be able to read all of the small text, too. The slogan ‘Creative engineering makes science your obedient servant’ not only perfectly sums up the immediate post-war era stance of absolute belief in technological feasibility, but also unmistakingly voices where science’s proper place in society should be. I maintain that the understanding of said era is quintessential for understanding our contemporary world: In present day society, the term ‘science’ has great potency. Not only is ‘science’ more or less equivalent … Continue reading

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early near futures

Many of the films discussed so far [films made from 1895 to 1910 and featuring science-fictional elements or qualities] could be said to be cinematic predictions of the future: from future warfare and advanced automatons to trips to the moon and visitors from another planet. Yet most of these narratives (or the film’s mise en scène more generally) suggested that events were taking place in an undefined present, the result of a recent technological breakthrough. This initial absence of futurity can also be found in much of the literature from which these early film narratives were drawing inspiration: Frankenstein, Twenty … Continue reading

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evolution of creationism

I sincerely urge everyone to read David Montgomery’s article ‘↓The evolution of creationism‘—it’s just about five pages long and absolutely concise and clear. Abstract For centuries, natural philosophers, their scientific successors, and theologians alike sought to explain the physical and natural world. The now common cultural narrative of perpetual conflict between science and religion simplifies the arguments and struggles of the past and overlooks cross-pollination between those who embraced faith and reason as the keys to understanding earth history. When geologists unequivocally dismissed the idea of a global flood and recognized Earth’s antiquity, many conservative theologians acknowledged that there was … Continue reading

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why technologies fail

Boingboing’s Maggie Koerth-Baker has written a fine column for the New York Times Magazine called ‘↑Why your car isn’t electric,’ investigating the question ↑why some technologies fail, and others succeed. For a deeper understanding of the matter at hand and and the examples used, I recommend Pinch & Bijker 1984 and Pfaffenberger 1992. PFAFFENBERGER, BRYAN. 1992. Technological Dramas. Science, Technology, & Human Values 17(3): 282-312. PINCH, TREVOR J. UND WIEBE E. BIJKER. 1984. The social construction of facts and artefacts: Or how the sociology of science and the sociology of technology might benefit each other. Social Studies of Science 14(3): … Continue reading

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archæology of steampunk

Just a minute ago I pre-ordered ‘Steampunk: kurz & geek’ (Jahnke & Rauchfuß 2012) after I had read ↑Kueperpunk’s review (he has a reviewer’s copy). It reminded me of Ekaterina Sedia’s introduction (Sedia 2012) in ‘The Mammoth Book of Steampunk’ (Wallace 2012): With the recent release of ↑The Steampunk Bible (ed. Jeff VanderMeer and SJ Chambers [2011]), it seems that steampunk as a genre finally came into its own and has grown enough to demand its own compendium, summarizing various parts of this remarkably protean movement, and pointing out interesting things happening in its DIY culture, cosplay, film, literature and … Continue reading

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cybernetic science fiction

  It simply is astounding what a collection you amass on your hard drives over time—and about how many of the collected things you simply forget. I just refound an unfinished draft version of Patricia S. Warrick’s ‘↑Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction‘ (1980). Don’t ask me how I got that … I simply can’t remember. Fact of the matter is that I never got the finished book, although it may well contain tons of water on my mills.     On the other hand there is the possibility that I jettisoned ‘Cybernetic Imagination’ on purpose, because I do fear that … Continue reading

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william gibson interviews

  Earlier this year his collection of non-fiction texts, ‘Distrust That Particular Flavor’ (Gibson 2012), was published—now there are some fresh interviews with ↑William Gibson around: the one with io9 above, and a ↑three-part interview at Wired. GIBSON, WILIAM FORD. 2012. Distrust that particular flavor. New York: Putnam Adult. io9-interview via ↑entry at ↑kueperpunk … Continue reading

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science fiction debt

Jo Walton’s ↑The Best Science Fiction Ideas in any Non-Fiction Ever: David Graeber’s Debt: The First Five Thousand Years has some nice ideas about why so many science fiction readers and writers are fascinated by ↵anthropologist David Graeber’s book ‘Debt’ (2011): One of the problems with writing science fiction and fantasy is creating truly different societies. We tend to change things but keep other things at societal defaults. It’s really easy to see this in older SF, where we have moved on from those societal defaults and can thus laugh at seeing people in the future behaving like people in … Continue reading

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fistful of quarters

Joshua Bearman’s article ‘↓The perfect game‘ (2008) since years slumbers on my HDD—luckily it’s still available online for everybody. Testimony to the amazing zen-like perfect-flow achievable in high-end arcade gaming. Additionally there are two magnificent documentaries on the subject: ‘The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters’ (Gordon 2007) and ‘Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade’ (Ruchti 2007). Here are the trailers and what ↑filmcritic‘s ↑Anthony Burch has to say on the two documentaries:  the king of kong  Put this one at the top of your “Must Watch Now” list. Like, right now. Beyond functioning as an entertaining if somewhat shallow look … Continue reading

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