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From Technician's Extravaganza to Logical Fantasy: Science and Society in John Wyndham's Post-War Fiction, 1951-60

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JournalOsiris
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Oct 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 Jun 2019
Volume34
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article argues that John Wyndham’s post-war novels represent a sustained attempt to analyse and problematize the relationship between knowledge, expertise and society. Wyndham held vigorous opinions on the critical role that science fiction could and should play in modernity, even as his novels dissected the ultimate unsustainability of industrial urban democracies. He believed that it was the role of the SF writer to show that the pace and path of scientific and technological developments were not pre-determined, but potentially subject to collective decision-making regarding the human future. This article explores Wyndham’s depiction of ‘experts’ and ‘amateurs’ in the context of his deployment of scientific and social-scientific concepts as he analysed prospective futures, and argues that aspects of SF can be understood as practical STS or applied history of science, firmly situated in an affective moral context.

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© 2019 by The History of Science Society. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

    Research areas

  • Science fiction, expertise, John Wyndham, STS

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