Philosophical science fiction - suggested reading lists
October 8, 2014 7:17 AM   Subscribe

A collection of philosophical science/speculative fiction reading lists, (with decent amount of short fiction and some media thrown in) with short "why you should read this " blurbs. The suggestions are made by professional philosophers and philosophy-trained SF writers, and curated by Eric Schwitzgebel, Professor of Philosophy at UC Riverside. Part 2, Part 3 With more suggestions promised to come. (Previously, a course on Science Fiction and Political Science , previouslier - curated lists of anarchist and socialist science fiction
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory (21 comments total) 118 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just turned into this.
Thank you!
posted by Lemmy Caution at 7:25 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is awesome - some long time faves as well as some stuff I haven't read yet here - thanks!
posted by nubs at 7:28 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Very cool, thank you!
posted by jeffburdges at 7:36 AM on October 8, 2014


WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO GET SHIT DONE NOT ADD MORE BOOKS TO READ!??! ADDS MORE BOOKS TO THE TBR PILE.
posted by Fizz at 7:48 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


well this is relevant to my interests.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:00 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Solaris is obviously missing from the list, though His Master's Voice is more explicit in its concerns with the truly alien.
posted by wotsac at 8:00 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Interesting lists. That's a great blog, too, if you're at all interested in philosophy of mind.
posted by Segundus at 8:19 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


The big takeaway here is that Ursula K. Le Guin is clearly required reading.
posted by teh_boy at 8:37 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised Cordwainer Smith didn't appear on anyone's list. The Instrumentality and the Underpeople are interesting takes on the role of government and what it means to be human (or not).
posted by tommasz at 8:40 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Went looking for Ted Chiang, wasn't disappointed. If you haven't read his short stories, stop doing everything else and go to this Rhaomi megapost, because why not?

Also pleased to see the Nine Billion Names of God and the smattering of Asimov thrown in.

Anathem, of course. That's too easy. Ursula K. Le Guin, yes, no doubt.

Embassytown and The City & The City - hmm. Interesting.

Part 2 has Accelerando, yes. The entire Book of the New Sun as one recommendation, though?

Part 3 stuck in all of Battlestar Galactica and Serenity, as well as Her, Blade Runner, and Starship Troopers. Huh...
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:43 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean, Solaris is neat, and I love that we've finally got a decent English translation of it, and the scene where the main character is down on the planet, at the shore of the world-ocean, and he's playing with the intelligent-seeming waves as if they were big weird puppies, and he's failing to correlate the behavior of the playful waves with the complete failure of the ocean-mind and humans to understand each other, that scene gives me tingles every time I read it.

But His Master's Voice and Fiasco are both so completely the perfect books for this list that the absence of Solaris makes complete sense.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:58 AM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


Thanks! I'm finding lots of goodies to add to my bucket list.
posted by tybeet at 9:35 AM on October 8, 2014


No love for Ayn Rand's Anthem? I can't think of anything of more interest to the philosopher than a society where even referring to oneself as an individual warrants capital punishment.
posted by Renoroc at 9:55 AM on October 8, 2014


A more sophisticated take on this concept than the TNG episode Darmok

Like that Star Trek episode “Darmok”, except, you know, good


Why all the Darmok hate? My army, with fist closed.
posted by Beardman at 9:55 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


Terrific lists that force me to ask myself: Where is my short story Spotify-equivalent? If we can throw up Spotify playlists for our 20 favorite darkwave toetappers, where's my readlist for all the short fiction recommended on the three postings?
posted by the sobsister at 10:06 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


No love for Ayn Rand's Anthem? I can't think of anything of more interest to the philosopher than a society where even referring to oneself as an individual warrants capital punishment.

Epic troll, bro...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:26 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


I by chance read Solaris while taking an independent study course on Measurement in Psychology that involved reading Karl Popper, Feyerabend, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and learning the relevant parts of Multivariate statistics for inventory validation. The readings were eye-opening, the stats were very useful then and now, Wittgenstein's later work was a revelation but it was Stanislaw Lem and Solaris that pretty much annihilated most of the underlying conceptual assumptions of my undergraduate psychology degree.

I've read a lot of books and I've read a lot science fiction. Very few have had any kind of impact on my life at all.

Solaris was a mind bomb and 20 years later I still experience occasional shock waves from it.
posted by srboisvert at 10:29 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


So, a quick breakdown of the first list:

56 works by 48 creators, including novels, short stories, TV episodes and one TV series as a whole (I counted Ringworld and Battlestar Galactica as one item each for different reasons).

Of the creators, 40 are male, 8 are female.

52 works, of which 40 are credited to men, and 12 to women. This includes the cases of split writing credits.

1/5 female/male writers

3/10 female/male creative credits.

I anticipate the ratios to change a bit in favor of women in the second list, thanks to the one selection that includes more women than men. I'll also continue the number crunching over the whole proud- it'll be interesting to see the results.
posted by happyroach at 11:08 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm a little surprised that Jack Womack's novels didn't get on here as they were one of the few that actually examined race relations from a SF standpoint.
posted by digitalprimate at 12:27 PM on October 8, 2014


Excellent lists: but I'd add MK Joseph's The Hole in the Zero - brilliant piece of experimental literary SF comprising vignettes in which five characters play out their conflicts in vivid universes of their own making (e.g. normal causality. bifurcating "many worlds" model, Campbell cycle, a universe where reality is shaped by the strongest will, and so on).
posted by raygirvan at 1:08 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


re: political SF; caliban's war, the second book of james s.a. corey's expanse series, is a fun political thriller :P
posted by kliuless at 6:24 AM on October 14, 2014


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