To Boldly Go: Toward a New Political Hegemony w/Nick Srnicek & Manu Saadia
With the current crises here in the early years of the 21st Century, Star Trek’s optimism, humanism, and scientific outlook may be more important than ever. For that reason, and the fact that the original series is what first brought me to the humanist perspective, I want to recognize and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the most popular science fiction enterprise in mainstream American culture, and perhaps the most influential television franchise ever. I’ve covered a few aspects of the philosophy, politics, and science of Star Trek on programs in the past, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to discuss the underlying thesis which allowed Star Trek to BE Star Trek.
But fiction is not the only place where utopian thinking is present. In fact, to some thinkers, such thinking is not necessarily utopian at all–at least not in the sense of creating an unachievable goal. There are many serious thinkers who are coming at this from various academic fields.
Today’s show will explore the possible humanistic future we can achieve in the real world, and celebrate a fictional future which anticipated and expected that we’d make it there. To do this we will be speaking with both Nick Srnicek & Manu Saadia.
Developing a Progressive Narrative
As many may already know, science fiction and speculative fiction in general can investigate and articulate the state of our nation and/or world in very direct but also metaphorical ways. We have talked about Star Trek, for instance, on Equal Time and how Gene Roddenberry was able to discuss humanism and naturalism via the small and large screen. And there have been many novels and short stories since at least the late 19th Century which have done the same.
Victoria N Alexander and Adrienne Maree Brown are two authors who have relatively new speculative fiction books out. Victoria, who has a PhD in English and philosophy of science, is also a novelist and the founder of Dactyl, a foundation that fosters dialogue between artists and scientists. She is the author of several novels including the topic of today’s discussion, Locus Amoenus. The novel brings Shakespeare into the post-9/11 world we currently experience and sows an emotionally powerful geopolitical drama.
Adrienne Maree Brown is an author, a life/love work coach, a singer (including wedding singer), events facilitator and a scholar on the late Science Fiction novelist Octavia Butler. In Octavia’s Brood, Adrienne has co-edited a collection of both speculative and science fiction stories founded on the spirit and creativity of the late author.
Science, Science Fiction, and the Future of Humanity w/ Christopher L. Bennett
Advances in technology have already allowed us to achieve remarkable things, from the internet to space travel to medical technology, all of which would likely have been considered “miracles” only a few centuries ago.
In many works of Science Fiction, and in Star Trek in particular, the future is depicted as one in which this trend continues; working together, we cooperatively solve our social problems and expand into deep space, achieving things that would seem incredible even today. In the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, even God was seemingly afraid of what humans can achieve together. Seeing them building a tower to heaven itself, He foiled the humans by complicating communications by making them all speak different languages. Besides being a rather silly explanation for the origins of language, this was a similar tactic as when God demanded the first humans not to eat from the tree of knowledge and remain ignorant subservient to Him.
Philosophically speaking, should we continue to build that tower and conquer the heavens? Or should we be doomed to ‘speak different languages’ and proceed no farther into the universe?
Science fiction author Christopher L. Bennett addresses some of these issues in his novels, Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel, which directly references the Tower of Babel story, and more recently, Only Superhuman, which deals with future technology granting us real superhuman powers. Bennett is an accomplished sci-fi novelist, having also written a number novels based on Marvel’s superhero universe as well as Star Trek. He will discuss with ETFF science fiction, technology, the future of humanity!