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Literature / Philosophy and Science Fiction

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First published in 1984 by Michael Philips, with the help of Prometheus Books. This is an anthology of Science Fiction, but also a Non-Fiction textbook using the fictional stories to teach lessons on introductory philosophy. Michael Philips, who was a professor of philosophy at Portland State University, wrote about thirty pages of lessons, and also included Study Questions to tie the lessons and the fiction together, using popular stories to teach hard-to-understand ideas.


    Stories in the collection 

This Genre Anthology provides examples of:

  • The Annotated Edition: This Genre Anthology includes essays and questions to turn the stories into lessons on philosophy, edited by a philosophy professor.
  • Compressed Adaptation: An excerpt from Stanisław Lem's Solaris is included, to illustrate the "Meaning of Life" lesson found inside.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: Robert A. Heinlein's "They": A man realizes that something is wrong with the world when it's raining when he's outside his house, but when he goes upstairs and looks through a window it's clear and sunny.
  • Humanity's Wake: Brian W. Aldiss's "But Who Can Replace A Man?": The robots are overjoyed that humanity is wiped out and they are now free, but they end up nuking each other and in the end they come across one surviving human, whom their programming compels them to obey.
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  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Robert Sheckley's "The Seventh Victim": Humans hunting humans is legal, as long as the participants agree to take turns being hunter and victim.
  • My Art, My Memory: Robert A. Heinlein's "They": A man believed to be insane can play beautiful music on the violin. Later on he dreams about his past life in a higher level of being, including hearing music swelling out of every living thing — presumably the source of his musical ability.
  • The Noun and the Noun
  • One-Book Author: The editor, Michael Phillips, is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Portland State University, and is not to be mistaken for the Christian Mystery/Romance author or the several other authors by the same name. This Michael Phillips has only published this one anthology.
  • Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman: Fritz Leiber's "Catch That Zeppelin!": A person jumping sideways-and-backwards from 1973 to 1937, replete with Zeppelins, electric cars, a successful Reconstruction, and — most crucially — a completely defeated Germany at the end of 1918. It is revealed that the alternate-1937 perspective is from a very different Adolf Hitler.
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  • Tagline: "An examination of philosophical themes in science fiction, with seventeen stories by: Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Brian Aldiss, Stanisław Lem ...and others"
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Norman Spinrad's "The Weed Of Time": The victim - er, narrator - could remember the entirety of his 110-year life even from the moment of his birth. An expedition to another planet brought back the weed which caused the precognition effect and it had been released accidentally and grew wild. The experience drives him insane, because he cannot change any of the events he experiences.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Fritz Leiber's "Catch That Zeppelin!": An alternate universe where things turned out (mostly) much better than our own, and includes zeppelins docking at the Empire State building, where a Real Life mooring mast was considered. No, they weren't filled with hydrogen.