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Darwin to the double helix: astrobiology in fiction

  • Mark Brake (a1) and Neil Hook (a1)

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.

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Clarke, A.C. (1956). The City and the Stars. Harcourt Brace, New York.
Clarke, A.C. (1968). 2001: A Space Odyssey. Arrow Books, London.
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International Journal of Astrobiology
  • ISSN: 1473-5504
  • EISSN: 1475-3006
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-astrobiology
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