Category Archives: agency/will/freedom

“Good Night, Sophie,” Lino Aldani, 1963

“Good Night, Sophie,” Lino Aldani, 1963 – (trans. from Italian)– In a future in which the superstar, Sophie, is a VR porn star, Sophie must decide if the Anti-Dream League’s claims that “nature and the soul” are being lost due … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, aesthetics/beauty, agency/will/freedom, american culture, capitalism/Marxism, class/labor/"work", dreams/hypnosis, emotions/intimacy/empathy, gender, identity/authenticity, intelligence, interior/exterior, international, love/family/children, media/advertising, memory, narrative, natural/artificial, photo/film/image, progress/obsolescence, psych/mind/madness, reality/VR/surreal, religion/soul/spirituality, senses/space, sex/reproduction/sterility, simulacra, spectatorship/voyeurism, surveillance, the body, the gaze, the Other, theatre/performance | 1 Comment

“The Place Where Chicago Was,” James Judson Harmon, 1962

“The Place Where Chicago Was,” James Judson Harmon, 1962 – The state seeks to make its “do no harm” ideal a reality.  Its sonic controls create a world of compulsory vegetarianism, as well as simulated battles and citizens who are … Continue reading

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“Something Strange,” Kingsley Amis, 1960

“Something Strange,” Kingsley Amis, 1960 — Bruno, Clovis, Myri, and Lia are amnesiacs on a “spaceship” which is being besieged by surreal threats (e.g., a near-miss with a comet).  The conclusion reveals that the terrifying events are part of a … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, agency/will/freedom, artists/creativity, astronauts, emotions/intimacy/empathy, logic/reason, memory, psych/mind/madness, reality/VR/surreal, scientific ethics, senses/space, surveillance | Leave a comment

“Alpha Ralpha Boulevard,” Cordwainer Smith, 1961

“Alpha Ralpha Boulevard,” Cordwainer Smith, 1961 — In the “first years of the Rediscovery of Man, when the Instrumentality dug deep in the treasury, reconstructing the old cultures, the old languages, and even the old troubles,” Paul and Virginia tour … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, agency/will/freedom, animals/insects, cities/architecture/habitats, class/labor/"work", cyborgs/posthumans, death/immortality, difference/tolerance, disease/plague, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, hubris/pride, identity/authenticity, love/family/children, museums/artifacts, myth, natural/artificial, primitive/civilized, spectatorship/voyeurism, the Other, time/history/causality, tourists | Leave a comment

“Build-up,” J.G. Ballard, 1957

“Build-up,” J.G. Ballard, 1957 – (Alternate title: “Concentration City“) Overpopulation in the future has led to such building density that an aspiring aircraft designer and physics student, Franz, can’t find enough “free space” to “re-discover” the concept of flight.  He … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, capitalism/Marxism, cities/architecture/habitats, knowledge/truth/epistemology, logic/reason, memory, myth, overpopulation, physicians/medicine, psych/mind/madness, religion/soul/spirituality, senses/space, speed/slowness, time/history/causality, utopia/dystopia | Leave a comment

“Plenitude,” Will Worthington (Will Mohler), 1959

“Plenitude,” Will Worthington (Will Mohler), 1959 —  A family ekes out a hard life on the mountainside.  Opens with a young boy, Mike, asking his father “why, why,” as the father works on his garden. The child’s curiosity is deceptively … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, catastrophe, class/labor/"work", consumerism, gender, identity/authenticity, love/family/children, male anxiety, masculinity, museums/artifacts, natural/artificial, progress/obsolescence, reality/VR/surreal, senses/space, television, Uncategorized, violence | Leave a comment

“–All You Zombies–,” Robert Heinlein, 1959

“–All You Zombies–,” Robert Heinlein, 1959 – A time traveler paradox in which an orphaned “intersexed” man (hermaphrodite) switches genders, travels back in time to impregnate a younger version of himself, and gives birth to himself.  He is thus his … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, class/labor/"work", death/immortality, favorites, gender, identity/authenticity, love/family/children, masculinity, multiplicity, sex/reproduction/sterility, the body, the Other, time/history/causality | 1 Comment

“No, no, not Rogov!” Cordwainer Smith, 1959

“No, no, not Rogov!” Cordwainer Smith, 1950 – Cherpas and Rogov are good Soviets who doggedly carry out Stalin’s orders for a machine that can read all EM radiation, including thoughts, for the purpose of spying and suppressing thought.  With … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, capitalism/Marxism, communication, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, gender, hubris/pride, intelligence, love/family/children, music, nationalism, psych/mind/madness, scientific ethics, superhumans, surveillance, the scientist, totalitarianism/fascism, war/soldiers | 1 Comment

“Pelt,” Carol Emshwiller, 1958

“Pelt,” Carol Emshwiller, 1958 – A beautiful white dog (alternately referred to as Aloora, Queen, Galaxa) helps her master track down sentient “beasts” on the planet Jaxa.  Despite the beasts’ urging of her to do “something free,” to do anything … Continue reading

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“Let’s Be Frank,” Brian W. Aldiss, 1957

“Let’s Be Frank,” Brian W. Aldiss, 1957 — “Four years after pretty little Anne Boleyn was executed in the Tower of London, a child was born into the Gladwebb family–an unusual child” to a young Sir Frank Gladwebb and unnamed … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, death/immortality, eugenics/heredity, gender, globalization/world government, identity/authenticity, international, invasion, love/family/children, multiplicity, sex/reproduction/sterility, the body | Leave a comment

“Vengeance for Nikolai,” Walter M. Miller, Jr, 1957

“Vengeance for Nikolai,” Walter M. Miller, Jr, 1957 — Marya, a young Russian woman, is asked by a Russian general to assassinate the brilliant American (Ami) leader who is routing their troops.  This leader also is responsible for the attack … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, death/immortality, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, gender, love/family/children, masculinity, mourning/grief, myth, nationalism, psych/mind/madness, sex/reproduction/sterility, suicide, the body, violence, war/soldiers | Leave a comment

“Time in the Round,” Fritz Leiber, 1957

“Time in the Round,” Fritz Leiber, 1957 — A group of children loiter outside, trying to decide what to do. The youngest boy (nicknamed “The Butcher”) has a sadistic, “pre-civilization” streak.   The Butcher tries to poke his dog in the … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, gender, love/family/children, masculinity, photo/film/image, primitive/civilized, reality/VR/surreal, spectatorship/voyeurism, time/history/causality, totalitarianism/fascism, violence | Leave a comment

“Unit,” J. T. McIntosh, 1957

“Unit,” J. T. McIntosh, 1957 — Edgar agrees to become a Unit Father for a group of social misfits who wish to have their identities erased, such that they might be retrained as a new entity with no memory of … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, communication, difference/tolerance, emotions/intimacy/empathy, exiles/"home"/displacement, favorites, freaks/misfits, identity/authenticity, intelligence, love/family/children, margins/center, memory, multiplicity, nationalism, physicians/medicine, post/colonialism, the body, the Other | Leave a comment

The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester, 1956 (Novel)

The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester, 1956 (Novel)  — Gulley Foyle, the last survivor of The Nomad, has been ‘shipwrecked’ in space.  The possibility of rescue appears, but the ship deliberately continues on, leaving him to die.  His quest for … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, bureaucracy/corporations, class/labor/"work", distance, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, senses/space, speed/slowness, violence | Leave a comment

“And Now the News,” Theodore Sturgeon, 1956

“And Now the News,” Theodore Sturgeon, 1956 – In a media-saturated world, MacLyle retreats to a “wordless matrix,” an oasis of non-communication in which he can be absorbed in his own “practices and procedures.”  His desire conflicts with the psychiatrist’s … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, american culture, communication, consumerism, death/immortality, difference/tolerance, emotions/intimacy/empathy, exiles/"home"/displacement, language/libraries, media/advertising, paranoia/schitzophrenia, photo/film/image, psych/mind/madness, scientific ethics | Leave a comment

“Stranger Station,” Damon Knight, 1956

“Stranger Station,” Damon Knight, 1956 – Paul Wesson is stationed on Stranger Station, which will be visited by an overwhelmingly alien consciousness. His only companion is the robot (female) Aunt Jane. His purpose is to establish contact with the alien, … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, automata/robots, communication, death/immortality, difference/tolerance, economics, emotions/intimacy/empathy, evolution, language/libraries, post/colonialism, religion/soul/spirituality, the Other | 2 Comments

“The Country of the Kind,” Damon Knight, 1956

“The Country of the Kind,” Damon Knight, 1956 – A violent deviant has been “neutralized” by the societal practice of rendering him “invisible” (ignored).  Enraged, he tries to make them “see.” The society’s response to violence is three-fold: “The first … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, artists/creativity, communication, difference/tolerance, emotions/intimacy/empathy, in/visible, masculinity, paranoia/schitzophrenia, psych/mind/madness, religion/soul/spirituality, the body, the gaze, the Other, violence | Leave a comment

“The Star,” Arthur C. Clarke, 1955

“The Star,” Arthur C. Clarke, 1955 — Three thousand light-years away from the Vatican, a Jesuit astrophysicist comments on the depression of the crew, now that they have learned a disturbing truth which is initially concealed from the reader.  He … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, astronauts, catastrophe, hubris/pride, mourning/grief, religion/soul/spirituality, space exploration, time/history/causality | Leave a comment

“Two-Handed Engine,” Kuttner and Moore, 1955

“Two-Handed Engine,” Kuttner and Moore, 1955 – War has destroyed human communities, such that the concepts of connection and family are undermined.  For a time, humanity wallows in hedonism and selfishness, having constructed robots capable of providing any material good.  … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, automata/robots, consumerism, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, law, love/family/children, myth, photo/film/image, psych/mind/madness, religion/soul/spirituality, surveillance, violence, war/soldiers | Leave a comment

“First to Serve,” Algis Budrys, 1954

“First to Serve,” Algis Budrys, 1954 – A robot comes into consciousness to learn that it’s being developed as a prototype of a super-soldier.  Its creators are split into factions (one fearful, one determined).  Eventually the project is scrapped, as … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, automata/robots, Uncategorized, war/soldiers | Leave a comment