Fafnir 2/2014

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research 2/2014

Jyrki Korpua, Hanna-Riikka Roine & Päivi Väätänen:
Editorial 2/2014

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Jari Käkelä:
Managing and Manipulating History:
Perpetual Urgency in Asimov and Heinlein

Abstract: This article discusses the view of history presented in the early part of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series (original Foundation trilogy published in book-form 1950–1953) and Robert Heinlein’s short story “The Man Who Sold the Moon” (1949) from his Future History series. Looking at the way these works are influenced by the 1940s pulp science fiction context and Astounding Science Fiction magazine editor John W. Campbell Jr., this article examines their shared sense of continuous urgency or impending crisis. This leads to authoritarian solutions and a recurrent focus on “Great Man” characters who manipulate the society toward a better future with their enlightened awareness of the workings of history. As this article argues, while the stories justify these manipulations by a sense of urgency, they also create tensions where the manipulations become only temporary solutions and lead to predetermined futures for all but the power elite.

Keywords: Isaac Asimov, Foundation, Robert A. Heinlein, Golden Age science fiction, future history, crisis, authoritarianism

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Kaisa Kortekallio:
Intuitive Technologies.
Models of Posthuman Subjectivity in Simon Ings’ Hot Head and Hotwire

Abstract: This article analyzes two novels by the British writer Simon Ings, Hot Head (1992) and Hotwire (1995), from perspectives provided by second-order systems theory, philosophy of neuroscience and posthumanist philosophy. In Ings’ cyberpunk fiction, the use of a particular novum, a programmable cerebral tissue called “datafat”, enables elaborate experimentation on different theories of mind and matter. Due to this experimentation, Ings’ work is able to convey a conception of cognition as an emergent effect produced in material processes that are both human and non-human. Ings’ work asserts the human subject as a complex system in a complex technological ecology and, consequentially, presents us with a model for subjectivity that might be called “posthuman”.

Keywords: Simon Ings, Hot Head, Hotwire, posthuman subjectivity, posthumanism, philosophy of neuroscience in literature, complex systems in literature

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Emily Midkiff:
“Dragons are Tricksy”:
The Uncanny Dragons of Children’s Literature

Abstract: As early as the sixties, scholars of children’s literature have noted a trend to soften and satirize the dragon for children. This disconnect with traditional dragons has been bemoaned as ruining the mythic and archetypal power of dragons. Yet there may be more potent dragons lurking in children’s literature than readily apparent, due to one significant aspect of traditional Western dragon-lore: the eerie feeling or mood cast by a dragon. The original dragons of Germanic lore, from which many children’s literature dragons descended, were not just large scary beasts, but they also created a distinctly unsettling atmosphere in their stories. Modern tamed and human-like children’s literature dragons borrow certain uncanny qualities from the older generations of dragon-lore to become potent, if not always life-threatening characters. In specific, two traits borrowed from the original lore inspire uncanny doubling with their human counterparts: the dragons’ intensely possessive gaze and their clever, manipulative speech. This article analyzes these Freudian inheritances to argue that children’s literature dragons have not been entirely softened and satirized; the potential for uncanny fear embodied by the human-like behaviors of legendary Western dragons lingers in many modern children’s literature dragons. This potential reveals that dragons are still strong characters and can and should be analyzed productively through a Freudian uncanny lens.

Keywords: dragon, uncanny, Freud, children’s literature

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Päivi Väätänen:
Fantastic Conference Days in Sunny Florida –
Report from the 35th International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

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Call for Papers for the 4/2014 issue of Fafnir

 

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