Scientifiction: A Lecture by Richard Howard – Monday 23rd January – 5.30pm @ CONNECT

Engineering Fictions presents…


Advertising image for Hugo Gernsback’s Isolator.


A Lecture by Richard Howard

Seminar Room, CONNECT Centre, Dunlop Oriel House
5.30pm, Monday January 23rd.

Using the father of ‘scientifiction’ Hugo Gernsback as an entry point, this lecture explores the interplay between written science fiction and technology across the early stages of the genre’s history, outlining Gernsback’s own writings in the genre, the establishing of his Amazing Stories magazine, and his proclivity for accumulating patents.

This lecture locates the dominant tendency in Golden Age, New Wave and Cyberpunk science fiction as one of depicting technologies in either a repressive or a redemptive mode. The relationship between science fiction and technology is not appraised as simply a relationship of prophecy or prediction, but of feedback, a component in the chain that determines how technology is imagined and research is oriented. This is clearly evident when we consider military technology, with science fiction writers such as Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle providing key inspiration for Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative in the 1980s. A decade earlier the Vietnam War had split the science fiction community between those for or against US involvement in the region along the lines of the old guard and the New Wave, with each side taking out a full page advert in Galaxy magazine to show their opposition to or support for the war.

Science fiction is understood here as a means through which we come to terms with the changes wrought by technological advance, as well as a means through which we intervene in the story of technology. This lecture aims to trace both these aspects in the early history of 20th century science fiction literature.

Richard Howard is a science-fiction researcher and academic based in Dublin.

About CONNECT & Engineering Fictions

CONNECT is the Centre for Future Networks and Communications. Led by Prof. Linda Doyle, CONNECT’s research is productively involved with arts and new media research practices and academic research.

More broadly, the Centre engages with over 35 companies including large multinationals, SMEs and start-ups. CONNECT brings together world-class expertise from ten Irish academic institutes to create a one-stop-shop for telecommunications research, development and innovation.

CONNECT is funded under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres Programme and co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund.

Engineering Fictions is a practical instrument devised to support transdisciplinary thought, research and communication through CONNECT.

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