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Gregory Benford$
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George Slusser

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038228

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038228.001.0001

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Gregory Benford

Gregory Benford

The Scientist as Writer

(p.5) Chapter 1 Gregory Benford
Gregory Benford

George Slusser

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on Gregory Benford's career as science fiction (SF) writer. Benford has remained steadfast in his claim that science is at the center both of the twentieth century and of the form of literature he sees as its central mode of expression. He is of the belief that SF should deal with the impact of scientific ideas and discoveries on society and the individual. This chapter discusses Benford's deep understanding of the philosophical currents born, as early as the Western seventeenth century, from the impact of scientific discovery on conventional worldviews; his view of physical environments in which human activity becomes radically problematic, if not unthinkable, and thus unnarratable in terms of conventional fictional structures, governed by a Newtonian stability; his insistence on writing “with the net up,” strictly adhering to the laws of physics rather than conveniently “suspending disbelief”; and his synthesis of the often-contradictory demands of science and fiction. The chapter suggests that Benford's work is philosophical fiction of the highest order.

Keywords:   science, Gregory Benford, science fiction, scientific discovery, physical environment, physics, fiction, philosophical fiction

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