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The Artificial Paradise shows how science fiction is a powerful purveyor of cultural myths rooted in the history of the West, myths that shape American attitudes toward nature, technology, and the pursuit of happiness. Sharona Ben-Tov posits the theory that science fiction is an American "national mode of thinking" which seeks to replace nature with technological worlds- paradoxically, in hope of regaining a mythic, magical American Eden. Science fiction imagery- from fifties sci-fi through women's sci-fi and cyberpunk- keeps alive the desires of and anxieties born during the Scientific Revolution, when the Western view of nature changed radically. Ben-Tov discusses sci-fi classics like Dune, The Dispossessed, Neuromancer, Vonnegut's fiction, and the Aliens movie in relation to ancient and modern myths of nature, to scientific projects like the atom bomb, Strategic Defense Initiative, robotics, virtual reality, and to cultural psychology.
The book will appeal to those interested in popular culture, literature, and feminist studies. It will also enchant general readers who are interested in science fiction, especially readers who want to understand more about the relationship between technology and society.
1. Man-made Wonder 15
2. Wonder: Made in USA 53
3. Myths of the Final Frontier 89
4. Cyborgs and Daughters: Feminist Myths in the Man-made World 135
5. Paradises Lost and Regained 167
Cyberpunk: An Afterword about an Afterlife 175