Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-hb754 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-03-01T16:47:08.704Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Darwin to the double helix: astrobiology in fiction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 August 2007

Mark Brake
Affiliation:
Centre for Astronomy and Science Education, University of Glamorgan, 4 Forest Grove, Trefforest, Wales, UK e-mail: mbrake@glam.ac.uk; nhook@glam.ac.uk
Neil Hook
Affiliation:
Centre for Astronomy and Science Education, University of Glamorgan, 4 Forest Grove, Trefforest, Wales, UK e-mail: mbrake@glam.ac.uk; nhook@glam.ac.uk

Abstract

From Darwin to the double helix, the last 150 years have seen revolutionary changes in our understanding of life in the Universe. In this time, works of science fiction have provided a valuable, and often overlooked, reflection of the assumptions and attitudes held by society to such changes. This paper will consider key works of film and fiction as a commentary on emergent features of astrobiology, including the work of Fred Hoyle, Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men (1930) and Star Maker (1937), and Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick's cinematic classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). These popular culture texts represent a useful and inspiring communication of science. Their critical discourse is the reducible gap between the new worlds uncovered by science and the fantastic strange worlds of the imagination. As such, they exemplify a way in which the culture and science of popular astrobiology can be fused.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Aldiss, B. (1973). Billion Year Spree. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London.Google Scholar
Berenzden, R. (1975). Copernicus Yesterday and Today (Vistas in Astronomy, vol. 17), ed. Beer, A. & Strand, K., pp. 6583. Permagon Press, New York.Google Scholar
Burns, J.F. (1997). For Arthur C. Clarke, what is paradise without praise? New York Times, 1 April, 1997.Google Scholar
Clarke, A.C. (1956). The City and the Stars. Harcourt Brace, New York.Google Scholar
Clarke, A.C. (1968). 2001: A Space Odyssey. Arrow Books, London.Google Scholar
Clarke, A.C. (1972). Report on Planet Three and Other Speculations. Harper & Row, New York.Google Scholar
Clarke, A.C. (1984). 1984: A Spring of Futures. Ballantine Books, New York.Google Scholar
Clarke, A.C. (1990). Childhood's End. Ballantine Books, New York.Google Scholar
Dick, S.J. (1993). Consequences of success in SETI: lessons from the history of science. Proc. 1993 Bioastronomy Symp. (Progress in the Search for Extraterrestrial Life, vol. 74), pp. 521532. Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
Dick, S.J. (1996). Biological Universe. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Flammarion, C. (1862). La Pluralité des Mondes Habités. Didier, Paris.Google Scholar
Henkin, L.J. (1963). Darwinism in the English Novel 1860–1910. Russell & Russell, New York.Google Scholar
Hoskins, M. (1997). The Cambridge Illustrated History of Astronomy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Hoyle, F. (1957). The Black Cloud. Heinemann, London.Google Scholar
Isaacs, L. (1977). Darwin to Double Helix: The Biological Theme in Science Fiction. Butterworths, London.Google Scholar
Kaufmann, W. (1982). The Portable Nietzsche. Random House, New York.Google Scholar
Lem, S. (1961). Solaris. Harcourt Brace, New York.Google Scholar
LoBrutto, V. (1997). Stanley Kubrick: A Biography. Donald I. Fine, New York.Google Scholar
Malik, K. (2000). Man, Beast and Zombie: What Science Can and Cannot Tell Us About Human Nature. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London.Google Scholar
Miller, M.C. (1994). 2001: a cold descent. Sight Sound 4(1), 24.Google Scholar
Sagan, C. (1985). Contact. Simon and Schuster, New York.Google Scholar
Sagan, C. (1994). Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Random House, New York.Google Scholar
Sagan, C. & Shklovskii, I.S. (1966). Intelligent Life in the Universe. Random House, New York.Google Scholar
Shapley, H. (1958). Of Stars and Men: Human Response to an Expanding Universe. Beacon Press, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
Stapledon, O. (1999). Last and First Men. Gollancz, London.Google Scholar
Stapledon, O. (2001). Star Maker. Gollancz, London.Google Scholar
Struve, O. (1961). The Universe. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
Rose, M. (1982). Alien Encounters: Anatomy of Science Fiction. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
Vonnegut, K. (1969). Slaughterhouse-Five. Dell, New York.Google Scholar
Youngblood, G. (1970). Expanded Cinema. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., New York.Google Scholar