Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Courtesy of the Wayback Machine . . .

Over at his blog Xeno Swarm (now in my blog list, you'll notice), philosopher Terence Blake, who writes regularly about science fiction, is doing a series of blog posts on my essay from 2008, "'The End of Science Fiction': A View of the Debate."

The site where I originally published the essay, The Fix, was of course shut down long ago, but you can check out the original article via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine (through this link).

Of course, I've rethought quite a lot of the subject since then, one reason why rather than simply including the old article in the new edition of After the New Wave, I opted to include a new, original piece expanding on some of its concerns and dropping others instead, but the piece is there if you'd like to take a look (I, personally, find it interesting how these things hold up over time, or don't), and Blake's blogs are well worth checking out--not just Xeno Swarm, but Agent Swarm as well, which is different in tilt but covers many of the same issues.

Currently on the agenda at both: John Horgan's argument about The End of Science, which was part of my argument back in 2008, and is the more timely now because it got a new edition this year from Basic Books. (Twenty years, and it's still with us! How many books can you say that about?)

I can't say that my assessment of the work is a perfect match with Blake's. (I'm more inclined to an assumption of the existence of an objective reality that science is describing with increasing accuracy and comprehensiveness as it advances, even if that progress is not always tidy or beyond doubt; I even dare to hope that physicists will one day offer us GUT.) However, his exposition of Horgan's argument, and its implicit assumptions, seems to me irrefutable, and is strongly recommended to anyone concerned with this debate.

Preview After the New Wave
Preview Cyberpunk, Steampunk and Wizardry


Terence Blake said...

Hello Nader, I found your book AFTER THE NEW WAVE very interesting, and so I was inspired to search for your earlier article on "The End of Science Fiction". It's a pity that you left this article out of the new edition of AFTER THE NEW WAVE as it is a very well-written concise synthetic presentation of themes and arguments that can be found in less developped form elsewhere. So before reviewing your book (which I hope to do eventually along with its companion volume "CYBERPUNK, STEAMPUNK AND WIZARDRY Science Fiction Since 1980") I wanted to discuss this article in association with my reading of ANATHEM (which you do not discuss anywhere, as far as I know). I do believe in reality, so I am not a "postmodernist" in the sense of "all opinions are equally valid" relativism, a view that I have combated on many occasions (for details and arguments see my academia.edu page: https://independent.academia.edu/TerenceBlake). I am very influenced by post-structuralist thinker, and if I had to choose a title for my views it would be "pluralist realism". So I think that sometimes (but not always) increased accuracy in our knowledge about the world can only be obtained by re-conceptualisation, or paradigm change.

Nader said...

Thank you again for your interest. In light of your comments I'm already rethinking my decision to set "The End of Science Fiction" aside, and will try to make the essay available in a collection (hopefully sooner rather than later).

You're right that I haven't discussed Anathem (in fact, I'd have to revisit the book before feeling comfortable with doing so in any great depth), and hope I didn't come off as too oafish on the issue of an objective reality. In fact, my doubts about Horgan came partly from my thinking tending in the direction of what you've just described as pluralist realism.

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