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Dissent and the machine

Anti-computing explores forgotten histories and contemporary forms of dissent – moments when the imposition of computational technologies, logics, techniques, imaginaries, utopias have been questioned, disputed, or refused. It also asks why these moments tend to be forgotten. What is it about computational capitalism that means we live so much in the present? What has this to do with computational logics and practices themselves?

This book addresses these issues through a critical engagement with media archaeology and medium theory and by way of a series of original studies; exploring Hannah Arendt and early automation anxiety, witnessing and the database, Two Cultures from the inside out, bot fear, singularity and/as science fiction. Finally, it returns to remap long-standing concerns against new forms of dissent, hostility, and automation anxiety, producing a distant reading of contemporary hostility.

At once an acute response to urgent concerns around toxic digital cultures, an accounting with media archaeology as a mode of medium theory, and a series of original and methodologically fluid case studies, this book crosses an interdisciplinary research field including cultural studies, media studies, medium studies, critical theory, literary and science fiction studies, media archaeology, medium theory, cultural history, technology history.

Dana Phillips

, and while resilience can be a measure of the abiding strengths of natural systems, it can also result in new environmental woes in its own right (such as a preponderance of invasive Phragmites reeds, and the further decline of megafauna like elephants that I hinted at above). Science fiction, speculative fiction and the pre-posterous historical novel That all four of the terms I just spent some time defining are marked, in varying degrees, by ambiguity underscores their structural importance to the narratives in which they are employed as tropes, owing to a

in Literature and sustainability
Science fiction, singularity, and the flesh
Caroline Bassett

In this chapter questions about AI that ELIZA foregrounded are explored in new places and times – in science fiction, which has long dealt in AI, singularity, and the computational. SF claims a privileged relationship to the technological future, and the tax on dissenting projections is lower than that for the apostates of computer science and industry. More specifically, it claims the privilege that comes with attention. It attends to the future, it explores, invents, and/or speculates on possible forms of life. Through the form of attention

in Anti-computing
Sustainability in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital trilogy
Chris Pak

societies shape themselves partly through the utopian potential of the images of the future that they construct. Science fiction (sf) has portrayed a variety of images of the future, from post-apocalyptic narratives of decline to techno-utopian futures and ecotopian images of sustainable societies. These narratives explore many instances of sustainable and unsustainable practices, but issues of energy, oil, water and the extraction of other resources have been persistent themes. Through portrayals of future worlds and societies that explore the embeddedness of individuals

in Literature and sustainability
Open Access (free)
Theatre and the politics of engagement
Author: Simon Parry

This book is about science in theatre and performance. It explores how theatre and performance engage with emerging scientific themes from artificial intelligence to genetics and climate change. The book covers a wide range of performance forms from the spectacle of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony to Broadway musicals, from experimental contemporary performance and opera to educational theatre, Somali poetic drama and grime videos. It features work by pioneering companies including Gob Squad, Headlong Theatre and Theatre of Debate as well as offering fresh analysis of global blockbusters such as Wicked and Urinetown. The book offers detailed description and analysis of theatre and performance practices as well as broader commentary on the politics of theatre as public engagement with science. It documents important examples of collaborative practice with extended discussion of the Theatre of Debate process developed by Y Touring theatre company, exploration of bilingual theatre-making in East London and an account of how grime MCs and dermatologists ended up making a film together in Birmingham. The interdisciplinary approach draws on contemporary research in theatre and performance studies in combination with key ideas from science studies. It shows how theatre can offer important perspectives on what the philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers has called ‘cosmopolitics’. The book argues that theatre can flatten knowledge hierarchies and hold together different ways of knowing.

Open Access (free)
Reading Close Combat
Barry Atkins

or she might tell something other the received narrative account already told by so many others. In the ‘space between’ fact and fiction we are given licence to ask ‘What if?’ This is a game-fiction for armchair generals, and not for those who want access to an ersatz combat experience. It makes no more claim to being able to magically ‘transport’ the reader into the past than does the work of military history, and less than is claimed for genre war novels. There are first-person games that have eschewed the milieu of genre science fiction and been set firmly

in More than a game
Open Access (free)
Barry Atkins

:24 More than a game? 141 in the world and the fictional experience offered by the game-fiction has been treated with some levity, for example, by the writers of the British science fiction comedy television series Red Dwarf (1988–). Computer games in this far future have become not so much indistinguishable from life, but, as the title of the clearest example of a game played by the crew of Red Dwarf makes clear, ‘better than life’. Of course, Red Dwarf is a comedy that veers between affectionate self-parody of that particular kind of masculinity that might be termed

in More than a game
Open Access (free)
Reading Half-Life
Barry Atkins

consideration as a work of popular fiction, however, and the observation that Half-Life owes much of the feel of its interface to combat flight simulators (that similarly place a gunsight centre-screen) discussed in detail at the end of this chapter should not blind us to the obvious lack of simulatory intent. If Half-Life is simulating something, then it is not simulating lived experience. Although its visual reference is largely to a possible near-future, its emplotment gestures far more firmly towards the 1950s science fiction B-movie and its big-budget descendants than to

in More than a game
Barry Atkins

comparison between the computer game and literature further, then the concentration of game designers and consumers on genres that are fairly low down the literary pecking order (war, science fiction, fantasy) does little to add to the respectability of the computer game. But it might be as shortsighted to ignore questions of how we ‘read’ computer texts, and how they communicate their meanings, particularly in this time of increasing computer ‘edutainment’, online education, electronic publishing, and increasing Internet use, as it would be to ignore questions of just how

in More than a game
Richard Serjeantson

imagination’ in it.73 The New Atlantis was published with the Sylva and has much in common with it, but in this respect they differ: the New Atlantis has much of imagination in it. Bacon’s ‘fable’ does not merely select striking ‘tricks’ from various earlier traditions of natural knowledge. Rather, from a starting point in these traditions, Bacon takes the opporunity to trump them at every turn. Price_05_Ch5 98 14/10/02, 9:36 am Natural knowledge 99 A well-known science-fiction writer of the twentieth century has written that ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is

in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis