Richard Barke like Paul Krugman and many other social scientists will confess, my interest in our ability to understand and perhaps foresee (maybe even predict) future events was sparked by reading Asimov’s Foundation trilogy as a youngster. My first scholarly hardback book purchase, before starting college, was Kahn and Weiner’s The Year 2000 (1967), one of the first attempts to apply careful scenario and trend analysis to conjectures about technological and social futures. Today, perhaps not entirely ironically, I seem to have partially returned to my roots after studying regulatory issues for many years. With a former Tech student, Kristie Champlin Gurley (now at Harvard Law) I’m writing a book, conference papers, and articles about political and policy issues related to the idea of obligations to future generations. Part of our argument is that the excuse of uncertainty doesn’t absolve us of any responsibilities to posterity: the world of a half-century from now isn’t entirely unknowable – just as the world of 2014 wouldn’t have been totally alien to people in 1964. How public officials respond to forecasts (e.g., climate change, genetic design) and to disruptive technologies (e.g., privacy on the Web) has been largely the realm of science fiction (e.g., John Bruner, Kim Stanley Robinson). Social scientists – especially those weaned on Hari Seldon and psychohistory – shouldn’t disregard the immense value of speculative fiction in asking the right questions and perhaps finding some good answers.
Kathleen Ann Goonan’s first novel, Queen City Jazz (1994) was a New York Times Notable Book and the first novel in her Nanotech Quartet, which included Nebula Award finalists Crescent City Rhapsody and Light Music. In War Times, her sixth novel, won the Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of 2007 and was also the American Library Association’s Best SF Novel of the Year. Her latest of forty short stories, “A Love Supreme,” was published in Discover Magazine in 2011,
and her work is of academic interest in the field of science fiction. She teaches science fiction, creative writing, and other subjects as a Professor of the Practice in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her web page is www.goonan.com.
Dina Khapaeva, Professor of Russian in the School of Modern Languages atGeorgia Tech, explores the role that monsters – vampires, zombies, the living dead and ghosts – play in contemporary culture. She observes how Gothic monsters transform the rationalist agenda of science fiction as a genre by challenging our understanding of what it means to be human. Positioning her research at the intersection of cultural studies, medievalism and memory studies, she links the current aesthetic idolization of Gothic monsters with the neo-medieval trends in contemporary society. Khapaeva relates the present-day popularity of violent monsters and revival of neo-medieval attitudes and practices to the suppressed memories of the tragic history of the twentieth century. Two of her latest books were translated from Russian into English and French: Nightmares: From Literary Experiments to Cultural Project, (trans. Rosie Tweddly, Brill, 2013), Portrait critique de la Russie: Essais sur la société gothique, (Trad. par by Nina Kehayan, Eds. de l’Aube, 2012).
Pete Ludovice is the World’s only engineering professor by day and stand-up comedian by night. He is fascinated by the interface of science and science fiction and the ability of this interface to generate creative ideas for research and development. His research interests include the computer simulation of synthetic and biological polymers, and the use of humor to enhance technical education, communication and innovation. He views science fiction as the edges of the box of scientific research. He utilizes humorous improvisation to catalyze technical innovation and views the divergent ideas that result from improvisation as the that which propels the innovation process to the edges of the box of scientific research before convergent steps are employed to produce valid science designs from the science fiction realm at the box edges. Pete co-hosts a weekly radio show on WREK-Atlanta on science and technology entitled “Inside the Black Box” whose motto is “Science, only funnier.” He also co-hosts a weekly podcast on the intersection of science and the humanities entitled “Consilience, with Pete & Charlie. Pete is the Director of the Center for Academic Enrichment, and an Associate Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech.
Aaron Santesso has written about science fiction and surveillance in The Watchman in Pieces: Surveillance, Literature, and Liberal Personhood (Yale, 2013) and about science fiction and fascism (his article on the subject appeared in Science Fiction Studies). He has also published on utopian fiction and fantasy literature, as well as numerous pieces on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature. He is currently working on the evolution of “proto-science fiction” in the eighteenth century, maintains a research interest in pulp sf, and regularly teaches the work of Philip K Dick and William Gibson, among others.
Carol Senf specializes in Gothic Studies, an area of study that emerged at roughly the same time as science fiction (Shelley’s Frankenstein, which is often regarded as the first example of science fiction as well as a Gothic work). While science fiction features people, places, and machinery that its writers believe will ultimately be explained by scientific and/or rational means, the Gothic tends to concentrate on people, places, and movements that lie outside the possibility of scientific explanation. Although Senf also works with mainstream Victorian writers, her study of Bram Stoker (author of Dracula) often explores the intersection of science and the Gothic in his fiction.
J. P. Telotte, Professor and former Chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Literature,Media, and Communication, works in the areas of Film and Television Studies with a special interest in fantasy narratives. He teaches courses in Film History, Film Genres, Animation, and Science Fiction Film and Television, has published more than 100 academic articles on film and television, and has authored or edited six books on Science Fiction media including his 2014 publication, Science Fiction Television.
Lisa Yaszek is Professor and director of undergraduate studies in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech as well as a past president of the Science Fiction Research Association. Her research interests include science fiction, cultural history, critical race and gender studies, and science and technology studies. Her essays on science fiction as a global language appear in journals including Extrapolation, NWSA Journal and Rethinking History. She is the author of books including Galactic Suburbia: Recovering Women’s Science Fiction (Ohio State University Press 2008) and co-editor of collections including the Configurations special double issue on science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson (Winter-Spring 2012). She is currently completing an edited anthology on women’s work in the early science fiction community for Wesleyan Press and serving as associate producer for the independent science fiction film Rite of Passage.