Monday, August 15, 2016

Upcoming Talk at Worldcon!

Kansas City, Missouri

In a few days I'm heading to Kansas City to attend MidAmeriCon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention (aka, Worldcon).  I'm looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting new ones, enjoying some panels, seeing some fantastic authors, attending the Hugo Awards Ceremony, eating some of that famous barbecue, and having an all around nerdy good time.

I will also be giving a talk on the academic track called “The Meaning of Life Among the Stars: Nolan’s Interstellar, Robinson’s Aurora, and Butler’s Earthseed."  

My panel takes place on Sunday, Aug. 21 from 11am-12pm.  See the full schedule here.   Maybe I'll see you there!

The first slide of my presentation

My talk is partly based on some ideas I developed in posts here at Examined Worlds.  See this one on Interstellar, this one on Aurora, and this one that mentions Butler's Earthseed duology (oddly I've never formally reviewed the Earthseed books, although they did make my top ten list for philosophical SF).  There's a condensed abstract for my talk on the official schedule, but here's the full abstract.

While many philosophers have contemplated the meaning of life for individuals, science fiction affords us an opportunity to consider the meaning of the life of humanity as a whole, especially insofar as science fiction entertains the idea of interstellar colonization.  Will humanity survive far into the future among the stars?  Would we want to?  I draw on Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar (2014), Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel Aurora (2015), and Octavia Butler’s Earthseed duology (1993-1998).  Against Nolan and with Robinson, I argue that the long term survival of humanity in the cosmos would not necessarily enrich the meaning of the life of our species; however, Butler shows that taking interstellar travel as a goal could encourage humanity’s moral evolution.

Onward to Kansas City!

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