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Osiris, Volume 34

Presenting Futures Past: Science Fiction and the History of Science 

Osiris, Volume 34

Presenting Futures Past: Science Fiction and the History of Science 

The role of fiction in both understanding and interpreting the world has recently become an increasingly important topic for many of the human sciences. This volume of Osiris focuses on the relationship between a particular genre of storytelling—science fiction (SF), told through a variety of media—and the history of science.

The protagonists of these two enterprises have a lot in common. Both SF and the history of science 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, Presenting Futures Past examines the ways in which SF can be used to investigate the cultural status and authority afforded to science at different times and in different places. The essays consider the role played by SF in the history of specific scientific disciplines, topics, or cultures, as well as the ways in which it has helped to move scientific concepts, methodologies, and practices between wider cultural areas. Ultimately, Presenting Futures Past explores what SF can tell us about the histories of the future, how different communities have envisaged their futures, and how SF conveys the socioscientific claims of past presents.

352 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2019


History: History of Ideas

History of Science

Table of Contents



Amanda Rees and Iwan Rhys Morus: Presenting Futures Past: Science Fiction and the History of Science 


Iwan Rhys Morus: Looking into the Future: The Telectroscope That Wasn’t There
Nikolai Krementsov: Thought Transfer and Mind Control between Science and Fiction: Fedor Il’in’s The Valley of New Life (1928)
David A. Kirby: Darwin on the Cutting-Room Floor: Evolution, Religion, and Film Censorship
Lisa Raphals: Chinese Science Fiction: Imported and Indigenous


Projit Bihari Mukharji: Hylozoic Anticolonialism: Archaic Modernity, Internationalism, and Electromagnetism in British Bengal, 1909–1940
Peter J. Bowler: Parallel Prophecies: Science Fiction and Futurology in the Twentieth Century
Nathaniel Isaacson: Locating Kexue Xiangsheng (Science Crosstalk) in Relation to the Selective Tradition of Chinese Science Fiction
Will Slocombe: Playing Games with Technology: Fictions of Science in the Civilization Series


Charlotte Sleigh and Alice White: War and Peace in British Science Fiction Fandom, 1936–1945
Erika Lorraine Milam: Old Woman and the Sea: Evolution and the Feminine Aquatic
Colin Milburn: Ahead of Time: Gerald Feinberg and the Governance of Futurity
Lisa Garforth: Environmental Futures, Now and Then: Crisis, Systems Modeling, and Speculative Fiction


Martin Willis: Sleeping Science-Fictionally: Nineteenth-Century Utopian Fictions and Contemporary Sleep Research
Amanda Rees: From Technician’s Extravaganza to Logical Fantasy: Science and Society in John Wyndham’s Postwar Fiction, 1951–1960
Joanna Radin: The Speculative Present: How Michael Crichton Colonized the Future of Science and Technology
Lorenzo Servitje: Gaming the Apocalypse in the Time of Antibiotic Resistance



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