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|Title:||Through a glass, brightly: Sawyer’s Science Fiction as a Foundation for Ethics|
|Keywords:||science fiction;Robert Sawyer;ethics|
|Abstract:||The novels of Robert J. Sawyer have contained dinosaurs, aliens, Neanderthals and artificial intelligences. While including these science fiction tropes, his novels have always been about the human condition. These scientific nova are used as a mirror for the reader to examine humanity, with an eye to ethical behavior. Sawyer once suggested that his novels “fight the good fight about the value of rationalism over superstition, of openmindedness but not credulousness over dogma” (SF Site July 2002). As part of this scientific rationalism, Sawyer’s works show continued interest in ethics as an ultimate good. While his early novels take place in far-future environments, Sawyer’s recent novels are in the near future, with relatively few SF tropes. Darko Suvin once defined science fiction as “a literary genre whose necessary and sufficient conditions are the presence and interaction of estrangement and cognition, and whose main formal device is an imaginative framework alternative to the author’s empirical environment” (Suvin 1979: 7-8). According to Suvin’s definition, Sawyer’s novels are weighted in favour of a world very much recognizable as our own, with specific elements which form the imaginative frameworks. In novels like the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, or Wake Watch Wonder, Sawyer presents the reader with reasoned arguments towards an alternative ethical framework, by substituting our human experiences with those of Neanderthals or AI. Through eyes not unlike our own, Sawyer’s readers look at society until the light of a new world, illuminating the darkness of our past.|
|Appears in Collections:||Science Fiction: The Interdisciplinary Genre|
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