The Worlds of R. A. Hortz
Technophobia! Science Fiction Visions of Posthuman Technology
By Daniel Dinello.
University of Texas Press, Austin: 2005
Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - Posted March 13, 2012
Science Fiction is a melding of both hard science and fiction. Science Fiction writers often use the medium to explore human fears about what is yet to come and the technological advances that the future holds. In Technophobia! Science Fiction Visions of Posthuman Technology, Daniel Dinello, Professor of Film and Video at Columbia College in Chicago examines the interaction between the vision of a techno-utopia that is proffered by scientist, and the techno-dystopia that is the grist of so many Science Fiction stories.
In writing this book, Dinello has interwoven a dialog between the posthuman future where robots and other technological mechanisms rule, and the utopian vision of the scientist where humans have acquired a degree of immorality, along with freedom from want and ill health, all due to technological innovations. To create this synergy of ideas, Dinello offers insights into the realm of techno-utopian science fiction that is based upon real-world scientific pessimism and aligns it against the more prevalent techno-dystopian science fiction that is the mainstay of the genre. In doing this, he offers pertinent examples, along with illustrations, from all realms of science fiction, including classic works of science fiction such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, modern science fiction books, film and TV examples, and even from some computer games.
Technophobia! is organized into thematic chapters that each deal with one element of technology, such as artificial intelligence, robots, cyborgs, virtual reality, nanotechnology, and bioengineering. Each chapter includes a summary as to the current state of scientific research into each area. Combined, this information not only provides eye opening insights into the realm of technophobia, but it also offers a unique insight into a society and a culture that is so overwhelmed by the rapid pace of technological advances that they begin to fear it, while at the same time embracing it with uncontrolled vigor. (Cell phones are an apt example of this vigor.)
Dinello's book should be required reading in any technological or social science class, as well as any science fiction literature or writing course that incorporates an examination of future trends and the societal responses to these trends. It should also be required reading in any film or media course dealing with science fiction or technology. Most important, this book will fascinate general readers both for its insights into the realm of technophobia, but also for its beguiling overview of the entire genre of technology-based science fiction.
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