Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Produce, consume, repeat: what the science fiction of Frederik Pohl tells us about consumption

These days it’s all but impossible to separate the things we produce from the things we consume. Whether it be working on a production line, or staying at home raising children, many of the things that we do are a form of production – whether we get paid for that work, or not. And yet at the same time, we are also consumers, for we all pay bills, we all shop for food, and we all send our children to school.

Things then become problematic when production and consumption start to blur, for we produce in order to consume, but we also consume in order to produce. Whether it be catching a bus or paying for lunch, even the process of working itself is a form of consumption, and more often than not, many of us will also then consume the same product we have a hand in producing.

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It could be time to start thinking about a cybernetic Bill of Rights

Like it or loathe it, the robot revolution is now well underway and the futures described by writers such as Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl and Philip K. Dick are fast turning from science fiction into science fact. But should robots have rights? And will humanity ever reach a point where human and machine are treated the same?

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Stranger than fiction

Camp Concentration book coverIf there’s one thing I’ve learnt during my PhD it’s that truth is very often stranger than fiction.

I’ve just recently finished reading Thomas M. Disch’s Camp Concentration (1968), in which prisoners in the United States are injected with a form of syphilis in order to boost their intelligence. Strange as this may sound, it’s nothing compared with real life.

In 1972, whistle-blower Peter Buxtun revealed the that the US Public Health Service had been conducting secret studies on African-Americans, in the now infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment. The study started in 1932 and ran for over 40 years without the participants knowing they had the disease, and without them ever being treated with penicillin.

Of course, Disch couldn’t have known about the Tuskegee experiments when he was writing in the 1960s, but this revelation sure does make you think. Continue reading »

PhD Diary: August 2018

It’s been a busy few months here in Lancaster. Since my last PhD diary update I’ve spent a fair amount of my time working on various projects for publication including two book chapters and a paper for Foundation which should appear (I hope) in Spring 2019. I’ve also started on a project to self-publish a novel I wrote several years back, and am looking forward to teaching first year undergraduates in the English department starting in October. Continue reading »