Research on Science Fiction and Ursula K Le Guin

Chapter – V

Summation

Science fiction is a genre of literature that deals with the technological advancements of the futuristic society. It does not stop with that but also compares the well-being of the human beings with respect to the cultural, social and psychological changes that happen due to the technological advancements. The humanistic values of past, present and the anticipation of it in the future is also considered by science fiction. Humanism exists in several forms from ancient times. The presence of humanism in various forms helped humans to lead meaningful lives. Several theories in humanism helped it to evolve and fulfill the needs of human beings. The chief focus of humanism is mankind which is seen in the many works of Renaissance art and literature. It gained popularity as it appeared in literature and the popular characters in the novel elaborated the aim of humanism more than the theorists. Two such theories are Dehumanisation and Transhumanism that reveals a great deal about the scientific progressions of the present and the near future’s human society. Understanding the past and present science fiction reveals the future and nature of humankind in a technically advanced society. The presence of artificial or alienated setting of the universe in science fiction clearly questions the spirit of being human. The adverse effects of technology in the future world of human beings could easily be found in the pages of science fiction. Technology becomes the deciding factor of the fate of mankind and the universe. “The artist deals with what cannot be said in words. The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words. The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.” Hence science fiction had been the essential genre of literature that gives ideas to visualize the future with a cautioning note to prepare the humankind face the consequences. Dehumanisation and Transhumanism refer to the physical and psychological changes that happen in the technically evolved sophisticated society. The study focuses to serve as an eye opener for the society to be aware of the importance of Science Fiction in projecting the most possible future and the adverse effects of technology that affects both the physical and psychological peace of the human society.

The first chapter unveils the origin, history and evolution of Science Fiction and also gives a brief introduction about American Science Fiction as an exclusive genre of literature. The presence of Humanism in literature from its onset is also discussed in the first chapter. The evolved humanism is known as transhumanism that bothers only about human happiness irrespective of other factors. It is the possibility of fundamentally transforming the human condition with the widely-developed technology. The presence of transhumanism in fictions also gives a chance for people about the upcoming sophistication and also the possible danger. Dehumanization is the denial of humanness to other humans. It means more than the denial of basic rights. The target is on the creative aspect of an individual and affecting their psychology. Dehumanisation in Science Fiction is unintentional as most often the humans are affected by the technical advancements. Dehumanization influences psychological literature and portrays the struggle of the human beings in the dominating technical world. It is wise to consider the fictional setting seriously that may even become real in near future. The elements of transhumanism and dehumanization in science fiction are categorized with respect to the select novels of Ursula K Le Guin. Since the setting of science fiction is believed to be the near possible future, transhumanistic and dehumanisation themes in Science Fiction have larger impact than other possible genres of fiction. The chapter proceeds to introduce Ursula K Le Guin, one of the prominent authors of Science Fiction. Le Guin’s influence on her contemporary and other writers were also focused keenly as she is one of the early writers of SF. She being the first SF writer to focus on the gender issues in SF, a keen importance is also given to the role of gender in her novels. In contrary to the opinion of borrowing the devices from the early authors, she has invented the fictitious communicative device which was used by her successive SF writers. The plot summaries of all the select novels have been encompassed. The chapter discloses about the theories of Transhumanism and Dehumanisation. The relevant literature reviews are analysed and included in the first chapter. The unique technical features of Le Guin’s SF novels are also given due importance.

The second chapter – Across the Universe brings in a new insight about the theories of Transhumanism and Dehumanisation with regard to Science Fiction. It focuses on the significant features of Science Fiction in the select novels of Ursula K Le Guin. The scientific setting of the novels is analysed in order to relate the elements of the theories. The earlier predictions of SF and its relevance to the existing world are also discussed to validate the researcher’s point of view. The characters of all the select novels are studied in depth to analyse the psychological nature in a scientific or an alienated setting. Transhumanistic elements present in each novels of Guin is analysed deeply. It is applied to bring out the evolution of human beings as technical human beings in the present scenario. The technology influenced society is brought to light with the determination of the transhumanistic indicators in the select novels. The psychic nature of human beings in the SF society is also studied through the character depiction of Le Guin’s novels. Even though there are people around the normal human characters they feel alienated in artificial society where the humanity is in stake. Dehumanisation of the human beings is clearly manifested through the treatment of the characters.

The application of the theories is mainly based on the setting and characterization present in the novels. The relevant physical and psychological indicators of Transhumanism and Dehumanisation in the novels are listed in the chapter. The application of the theories implies an underlying caution for the existing society about the dangers of technological developments. Transhumanism focuses on how human beings have evolved with technology and the analysis by the researcher also enables the human beings to understand the psychological changes that happen in the characters. The inner peace of the characters is disturbed by the technical advancements and it also affects the overall societal ethnicity. The themes of SF should be noted as it varies from the setting of Fantasy novels, as Arthur C. Clarke rightly points out, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. SF novels do not attempt to imagine totally implausible technology that affects the human beings but only the probable advancements that would affect the nature of human society in near future. Few SF authors project the past history with advanced technologies to depict the present miseries or political turmoil of the late or present society. Science fiction focuses not only on the realities of specific problems but also symbolizes the most critical cultural uncertainties. Science fiction novels explore the possible technical revolution that tends to happen in the universe and consider essential idealistic questions about the nature of reality and the mindset of human beings. The research is significant because science fiction is the only genre that predicts how society would function differently in an imaginary future and also consider methods to make future a better place for human beings.

The select novels of Ursula K Le Guin also project the inevitable changes in the present or future society and the crucial changes in the nature of human beings. The author employs a future galactic civilization loosely connected by an organizational body known as the Ekumen and considers the consequences of contact between different worlds and cultures. The characterization and technology is interlinked in the novels that project the social and cultural impact on the various related human species. The novels employ alien cultures to examine structural characteristics of human culture and society.

The fourth chapter-Gateway to Future – Science Fiction tends to prove the researcher’s point of view by projecting the necessary elements responsible for the prediction of futuristic society where the way of salvation awaits. Equal importance is given to the scenario of the present society which lays the foundation for the author’s fictitious world. The chapter aims to focus on the link between the past and present to judge the future. The speculative fictions also anticipate the cultural, psychological and sociological changes that happen in the human society. The elements of the theories are applied to prove that Le Guin had spectacularly combined the past and present to predict the future of human beings. The chapter also paves way to revisit the present society and change its atrocities and reconcile in order to dwell in a better future.

The final chapter concludes the study by correlating the theories of Transhumanism and Dehumanisation with the select novels of Le Guin. It summarises the second, third and fourth chapters in order to substantiate the researcher’s point of view. The major findings of the study are discussed and substantiated. Scope for further research on SF has also been recommended.

FINDINGS

The research on the select novels of Ursula K Le Guin shows that the perspective of future, technology and human lives warn the society about the impact of technology on the universe. The analysis of past and present had paved way to visit the futuristic technology. Science fiction is the cloud on the horizon which is proved by analyzing the past science fiction novels and their present relevance to the society. The present technological advancements had made the science fiction writers to project the future brave new world. The following are the findings of the research. Adverse effects of technology had Transhumanised and Dehumanised the human beings that had resulted in the theft of humanism in the future society. The change should be welcomed but the sophisticated living provided by the technology threatens to destroy the nature of being humane. The research had helped in understanding the imaginary future to make the possible future a better place for human beings. There are both good and bad effects of transhumanism on the society. The good effects obviously make us long for transhumanistic developments whereas the bad effects help to prepare ourselves to face the challenges posed by the technological advancements. The research serves as an eye opener for people as Le Guin’s select novels have greater technological elements and stands as a witness to the implication of Transhumanism. The theory of Dehumanisation is best reflected through the characters of Le Guin’s novels as she had depicted the psychological conflict and a sense of alienation in a futuristic society where humanity is nowhere to be found. It helps in bringing about an awareness of the term Transhumanism and dehumanization that had been applied to the select novels of Ursula K Le Guin. The study also demonstrates how the novels bring to the fore certain assumptions of transitional humanism with relevance to the present context. The novels at the same time reiterates how certain fundamental aspects of nature are changed and lead to destruction of the natural way of living. The psychological identity of the characters in an alienated society also depicts how the people would be longing for a natural life style. The society may become hostile in exploring the human condition in exile and the sense of belonging gets affected due to the possession of phenomenal developments in futuristic technology. Androgynous society depicted in a novel had explicitly Hence, science fiction is nothing but a warning text about the future possible technological advancements that reveals the present-day scenario to the lime light. The perspectives of Science Fiction literature with reference to Le Guin’s novels and the theories of Transhumanism and Dehumanisation have been analysed.

SUGGESTIONS

Science fictions with Transhumanistic theme must be a part of the syllabus and curriculum as young adults, the students should be aware of the happenings in the field of science and technology. Literature should not be treated as something unrelated to reality. Literature is basically transcriptions of human experience and hence can serve as guides in negotiating one’s personal, social, moral and spiritual spaces. Curriculum should be designed in such a way that the study of literature helps students to locate their knowledge to real life contexts and to make them better persons and better workers. The teaching of science fiction should not be for mere thrill and sense of wonder but should focus on inducing awareness on how science is impacting everyone’s life in today’s world. Everything is mechanized in the contemporary world, but in recent times, people try to move back to the traditional way of living by preferring traditional foods to the modern packed food items. This change positively indicates the benefits of natural living and the effects of mechanized living. Cultural and social changes also owe a great deal to the technological developments. Hence it is essential to read science fiction as a piece of providing knowledge than as a piece for entertainment.

SCOPE FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

The novels of Le Guin devote magnificent space for human mind and its functional attributes. Research can be done on “Thinking styles” presented in the novel. Another area of research can be the aspects of feminism present specifically in The Left Hand of Darkness. The utopian elements in the novels of Le Guin can be another area of research. Le Guin’s novels have reminiscent of Taoism and Buddhism. Hence, a research on the religious aspects of Le Guin’s novels can also be carried out. Style and structure of the way the novel had been written can also be analysed. Anthropological elements present in the novels is a great area of research as Le Guin’s father is a renowned anthropologist. Research can also be done on the hainish universe in which all the novels of Le Guin are set. Mythological elements used by Le Guin in her novels can also be analysed for future research. Native flora and fauna of all the novels of Le Guin is yet another area of research as all the novels are set in different planets. Fantasy elements present in the novels of Le Guin can also be taken into account as she had used lots of fantastical elements in the novels.The themes of science fiction like artificial intelligence, alternate history,post-apocalyptic elements could be analysed. Le Guin’s novels could also be analysed and compared to speculative fiction.

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