Science fiction is often considered a literature of futuristic technology: fantastic warfare among the stars, or ruinous apocalypse on Earth. In the middle of last century, a very different theme suddenly blossomed. This was a fiction of mind powers such as telepathy, precognition of the future, teleportation, symbolic machines reacting to these mental forces and perhaps life beyond death. Driving this explosion of paranormal narratives was John W. Campbell, editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, later renamed Analog. Almost single-handedly, Campbell made "psience fiction" into a dominant movement.Until now, no scholarly study has dealt specifically with this abrupt shift of emphasis away from space travel, atomic weapons, robots, and other once-imaginary technologies, and into the realm of the paranormal treated as science. Literary critic Damien Broderick surveys this long-ignored terrain, reading a series of influential or characteristic psience fiction novels and short stories, from the 1930s to now. This tour of the psychic fictional landscape is framed by an informed discussion of the dynamics creating this surge of interest in parapsychology, and its absorption into the genre even as real-world military experiments in the paranormal (the US Star Gate program) were being conducted in highly classified secrecy.
About the Author
Damien Broderick is an Australian writer, editor and critical theorist, living in San Antonio, Texas.