Science as heterotopia
The British Interplanetary Society before the Second World War
in Scientific governance in Britain, 1914–79
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This chapter examines a little-known scientific organisation made up of scientific outsiders, the British Interplanetary Society. It is considered within the Foucauldian frame of the heterotopia, a space in which normal rules are suspended or subverted in order to create a utopian alternative. In this instance of scientific governance that space was provided by scientifiction. The content of the stories offered different ways of thinking about science, but perhaps even more importantly the material and social reality of their printing and distribution instantiated a different kind of scientific organisation in itself. The BIS was both an attempt to organise science differently – a space for different membership, aims and rules – and also a construction of this alterity through its interlocution with utopian accounts of space itself.


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