A CALL FOR HELP: Science Fiction and Philosophy

I have to give a talk on a long book (TETRALOGOS, 620 pages) by the French philosopher François Laruelle,  who claims to be doing philosophy that is the conceptual equivalent of science fiction.

Laruelle claims that the foundational core of the science fction he is looking for has three components:

1) quantum mechanics as the hard science infrastructure,

2) the epic of humanity’s voyage from Earth through the World to the Universe,

3) the transition from an unjust world to a just one.

I think that this programme is one-sided and incomplete, but it does describe a very interesting subset of SF. It would include STAR MAKER, DUNE, 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY, ANATHEM, and THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN.

Can anyone suggest any other great works of SF that are confirming examples for his programme?

Also, can anyone suggest any important counter-examples?

For example the novels of Alastair Reynolds rely mainly on relativistic physics as basic hard science framework, and the quantum effects are only marginally present.

Laruelle’s formula is: HS+SO+SU (hard science space opera struggle for utopia).

Yoon Ha Lee’s MACHINERIES OF EMPIRE trilogy fits this formula to a large extent. I have argued that it is not fantasy disguised as SF, and that its basic « hard » science is maths rather than physics, but this maths has « exotic » quantum-type applications, due to the interactions generated by properly conditioned populations of observers..

Laruelle argues that a maths foundation for SF or for PHI-F (philo-fiction) is inevitably too abstract, and that the same is true for relativistic physics. According to him, you need quantum physics to get a work that really engages with the Universe.

So any comments or suggestions?

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10 commentaires pour A CALL FOR HELP: Science Fiction and Philosophy

  1. robert micallef dit :

    Stephen Baxter’s Manifold series may fit the bill. IKen Macleod is another fine example. Olaf Stapledon… Genesis by Poul Anderson work this vein as well.

    Thanks for asking suggestions. Please keep us posted.



    Sent from my iPhone



    • terenceblake dit :

      Yes, thans for these. Baxter is a good example. I haven’t read Ken Macleod. Olaf Stapledon is great for points 2 and 3, but he doesn’t have quantum mechanics integrated into the fabric of the story, so for Laruelle he remains « standard » sf. Nonetheless, Laruelle talks much about the « generic » as a source of greater « amplitude », and Stapledon’s LAST AND FIRST MEN and STARMAKER are brilliant for this.


  2. landzek dit :

    Foundation. Asimov ?


  3. Ping : A CALL FOR HELP: Science Fiction and Philosophy – The Philosophical Hack

  4. bormgans dit :

    Maybe some of Banks’ Culture novels. Some of his concepts (the mystery in Excession, and entire species subliming in several books) have a quantum feel to it.

    Aimé par 1 personne

  5. bormgans dit :

    How does quantum feature in Dune? I’ve just started a reread of the first book, it might be interesting to take this into account while reading.


    • terenceblake dit :

      For me the quantum aspect of Dune is Paul’s vision of time (shared partially by many others) as composed of a huge network of branching possibilities, to the point of making this quantum time part of the very framework of the novel. Paul is constantly trying to break the prophetic vision by bifurcating, but finally gives in to it. He does not choose Leto’s Golden Path. A second point comes out in later novels, with Leto’s breeding programme to produce human beings whose actions are unpredictable both to prophetic vision and to artificial intelligences (quantum computers?) waiting on the outskirts.

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