Guide Monsieur Synthesis (French Science Fiction Book 92)

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The Face of Heaven — the first part of a trilogy published in one volume as The Realms of Tartarus — is a biological phantasmagoria concerning a Utopia built on a huge platform above the Earth's surface, and the conflict with the mutated lifeforms which proliferate below. This tale, choked with ingenious invention and grotesqueries, and The Walking Shadow ; vt The Walking Shadow: An Promethean Scientific Romance stand as Stableford's most clearly Stapledon -esque epics, and show a vein of contemplative wonder that he was later — in the impressive academic study, The Scientific Romance in Britain ; much exp vt New Atlantis 4vols — to characterize as an essential element tending to distinguish British from American sf.

The Asgard trilogy, set on a kind of Hollow Earth in another solar system, begins with Journey to the Center ; rev and was belatedly completed with Invaders from the Centre and The Centre Cannot Hold After this trilogy Stableford stopped producing fiction for some time, concentrating on popular and scholarly studies of sf and Futures Studies like The Science in Science Fiction with David Langford and Peter Nicholls and The Sociology of Science Fiction ; he also contributed very widely during this period to a number of journals, including Foundation: , and to various scholarly anthologies, including many of the essays in E F Bleiler 's two anthologies devoted to extended studies of individual authors: Science Fiction Writers anth and Supernatural Fiction Writers anth US 2vols.

He has served as contributing editor to both editions of this encyclopedia. Other important works include The Scientific Romance in Britain see above and The Report: A Concise History of the Future, with Norman and Christopher MacRae, all writing together as Norman MaCrae, in which the future is treated in Utopian terms, Technology having brought huge benefits to post-bureaucratic-states self-governing small communities.

Stableford returned seriously to fiction with The Empire of Fear , an Alternate History of Europe from the Middle Ages to the present in which immortal Vampires — whose condition is here scientifically premised and shorn of supernatural trappings — dominate the world; told with the geographic sweep and visionary didacticism typical of the Scientific Romance , the book successfully assimilates into sf modes some of the vast lore of the Vampire. With these novels, Stableford suddenly became a writer whose fiction befitted his intelligence, for in much of his earlier work a certain tone of chill indifference had tended to baulk the reader's identification.

The change was most welcome, and Young Blood — which could be described as a Scientific Romance about the biochemical roots of human identity within the context of an unconventional Vampire tale — fully justifies the sense that Stableford had entered his years of flourishing. This sense that Stableford had entered his late prime is even more clearly evident in the long experiment in describing the future that began in a nonfiction book, The Third Millennium: A History of the World AD with David Langford , which again provides a vision of Utopia , though with an optimism less forthright than in previous similar work.

The Third Millennium , with its focus on biotechnology see Biology ; Genetic Engineering , provided a taking-off point for the sharp tales assembled in Sexual Chemistry: Sardonic Tales of the Genetic Revolution coll , which is thematically connected to the Biotech Revolution sequence see below ; and underlies the most ambitious sf work of Stableford's career similarly connected to the Biotech Revolution sequence , the Emortality sequence comprising here listed according to internal chronology The Cassandra Complex , Inherit the Earth July Analog ; exp , Dark Ararat , Architects of Emortality October Asimov's as "Les Fleurs du Mal"; exp , The Fountains of Youth April Asimov's as "Mortimer Gray's History of Death "; exp and The Omega Expedition , the last volume playing off on most of what has gone before.

The overall story is a Future History conducted in the mode of the Scientific Romance , only intermittently focusing on continuous figures in a long drama consequent upon the near destruction of human life through a biotech Disaster known as the Plague Wars in the distant Near Future , after warnings of disastrous Climate Change have been ignored. The society that then evolves is explained essayistically through an intense application of the principles of Sociology to the various dilemmas and opportunities — from Overpopulation to Immortality and the ultimate Transcendence of our human condition see Posthuman — that follow on from the introduction of Nanotechnology -enabled extended lifespans, whose eventual use in Generation Starships justifies the exploration of nearby stars, where First Contact is made and ethical dilemmas proliferate.

It is notable that the Utopian world Stableford creates incorporates a vigorously post-nuclear-family culture. As indicated, much of his work has been loosely retrofitted into the Biotech Revolution sequence including in its own right, among other titles, Designer Genes: Tales of the Biotech Revolution coll of linked stories , The Undead: A Tale of the Biotech Revolution and Les Fleurs du Mal: A Tale of the Biotech Revolution [for titles see Checklist]; the sequence posits a multi-textured future profoundly influenced by Genetic Engineering. In recent years he has also translated dozens of volumes of French sf, much of this, but not all, being examples of the roman scientifique , which more closely resemble the Scientific Romance than they do sf itself, which he characterizes as an essentially twentieth-century American form; it should be noted that although many of these are described as adaptations, they are all in fact translations in the normal understanding of the term.

He has also published a large amount of fiction — including the intensely conveyed The Wayward Muse coll of linked stories , which begins the Mnemosyne sequence set in a Decadent artist's colony in an Alternate History where Rome did not fall — and numerous collections of essays, much of this being work that had awaited publication for considerable periods, some of this work being routine, much not.

Among his relatively few commercially published novels is Streaking , in which an attempt to argue the possibility of a good-luck gene is perhaps unfortunately embedded in a Gothic context.

Arthur B. Evans

Perhaps more important than any of these individual titles, however, is an exceedingly ambitious work of nonfiction: Science Fact and Science Fiction: An Encyclopedia , a massive encyclopediacal examination of the complex back-and-forth relationship between speculative fiction and scientific knowledge and advances. This text, and the Emortality sequence see above , make up together the most sustained, measured, thought-through and extensive body of argument yet presented about sf and the sciences that sf feeds and feeds upon.

After partial launches under the names human engineering and humanology , Polish-American originator Alfred Korzybski — fully launched the program as general semantics in with the publication of Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics. In Science and Sanity , general semantics is presented as both a theoretical and a practical system whose adoption can reliably alter human behavior in the direction of greater sanity.

In the preface to the third edition of Science and Sanity , Korzybski wrote: "We need not blind ourselves with the old dogma that 'human nature cannot be changed', for we find that it can be changed. While Korzybski considered his program to be empirically based and to strictly follow the scientific method, general semantics has been described as veering into the domain of pseudoscience.

Starting around , university English professor S. Hayakawa — , speech professor Wendell Johnson , speech professor Irving J.

Lee, and others assembled elements of general semantics into a package suitable for incorporation into mainstream communications curricula. The Institute of General Semantics , which Korzybski and co-workers founded in , continues today. General semantics as a movement has waned considerably since the s, although many of its ideas live on in other movements, such as neuro-linguistic programming and rational emotive behavior therapy.

In the "Silent and Verbal Levels" diagram, the arrows and boxes denote ordered stages in human neuro-evaluative processing that happens in an instant. Although newer knowledge in biology has more sharply defined what the text in these boxes labels "electro-colloidal", the diagram remains, as Korzybski wrote in his last published paper in , "satisfactory for our purpose of explaining briefly the most general and important points".

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General semantics postulates that most people "identify," or fail to differentiate the serial stages or "levels" within their own neuro-evaluative processing. By making it a 'mental' habit to find and keep one's bearings among the ordered stages, general semantics training seeks to sharpen internal orientation much as a GPS device may sharpen external orientation.

Once trained, general semanticists affirm, a person will act, respond, and make decisions more appropriate to any given set of happenings. Although producing saliva constitutes an appropriate response when lemon juice drips onto the tongue, a person has inappropriately identified when an imagined lemon or the word "l—e—m—o—n" triggers a salivation response.

In the 21st century, the physiology underlying identification and the neurological delay is thought to involve autoassociative memory , a neural mechanism crucial to intelligence. Briefly explained, autoassociative memory retrieves previously stored representations that most closely conform to any current incoming pattern level II in the general semantics diagram arriving from the senses. According to the memory-prediction model for intelligence, if the stored representations resolve the arriving patterns, this constitutes "understanding", and brain activity shifts from evaluation to triggering motor responses.

When the retrieved representations do not sufficiently resolve newly arrived patterns, evaluating persists, engaging higher layers of the cortex in an ongoing pursuit of resolution.

The additional time required for signals to travel up and down the cortical hierarchy constitutes what general semantics calls a "beneficial neurological delay". Identification prevents what general semantics seeks to promote: the additional cortical processing experienced as a delay. Korzybski called his remedy for identification "consciousness of abstracting. Korzybski's use of the term is somewhat unusual and requires study to understand his meaning.

He discussed the problem of identification in terms of "confusions of orders of abstractions" and "lack of consciousness of abstracting".

To be conscious of abstracting is to differentiate among the "levels" described above; levels II-IV being abstractions of level I whatever level I "is"—all we really get are abstractions. The techniques Korzybski prescribed to help a person develop consciousness of abstracting he called "extensional devices".


Satisfactory accounts of general semantics extensional devices can be found easily. This article seeks to explain briefly only the "indexing" devices. Suppose you teach in a school or university. Students enter your classroom on the first day of a new term, and, if you identify these new students to a memory association retrieved by your brain, you under-engage your powers of observation and your cortex. Indexing makes explicit a differentiating of students this term from students prior terms.

You survey the new students, and indexing explicitly differentiates student 1 from student 2 from student 3 , etc. Suppose you recognize one student—call her Anna—from a prior course in which Anna either excelled or did poorly. Again, you escape identification by your indexed awareness that Anna this term, this course is different from Anna that term, that course.

Not identifying, you both expand and sharpen your apprehension of "students" with an awareness rooted in fresh silent-level observations. Autoassociative memory in the memory-prediction model describes neural operations in mammalian brains generally. A special circumstance for humans arises with the introduction of language components, both as fresh stimuli and as stored representations.

Language considerations figure prominently in general semantics, and three language and communications specialists who embraced general semantics, university professors and authors Hayakawa , Wendell Johnson and Neil Postman , played major roles in framing general semantics, especially for non-readers of Science and Sanity. Many recognized specialists in the knowledge areas where Korzybski claimed to have anchored general semantics—biology, epistemology , mathematics, neurology, physics, psychiatry, etc. Keyser , C.

Bridges , W. Ritter , P.

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Bridgman , G. Korzybski wrote in the preface to the third edition of Science and Sanity that general semantics "turned out to be an empirical natural science. So Black summed up general semantics as "some hypothetical neurology fortified with dogmatic metaphysics. The benefits come from maintaining an awareness of the principles and attitudes that are derived from GS and applying them as they are needed. You can sort of compare general semantics to yoga in that respect The influence of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle , and of early operationalists and pragmatists such as Charles Sanders Peirce , is particularly clear in the foundational ideas of general semantics.

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Korzybski himself acknowledged many of these influences. The concept of "silence on the objective level" — attributed to Korzybski and his insistence on consciousness of abstracting — are parallel to some of the central ideas in Zen Buddhism. Although Korzybski never acknowledged any influence from this quarter, he formulated general semantics during the same years that the first popularizations of Zen were becoming part of the intellectual currency of educated speakers of English. On the other hand, later Zen-popularizer Alan Watts was influenced by ideas from general semantics.

General semantics has survived most profoundly in the cognitive therapies that emerged in the s and s. Albert Ellis — , who developed Rational emotive behavior therapy , acknowledged influence from general semantics and delivered the Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture in George Kelly, creator of personal construct psychology , was influenced by general semantics.

Fritz Perls and Paul Goodman , founders of Gestalt therapy are said to have been influenced by Korzybski Wendell Johnson wrote "People in Quandaries: The Semantics of Personal Adjustment" in , which stands as the first attempt to form a therapy from general semantics. Ray Solomonoff July 25, — December 7, was influenced by Korzybski.

Solomonoff was the inventor of algorithmic probability , and founder of algorithmic information theory a. Kolmogorov complexity. Another scientist influenced by Korzybski verbal testimony is Paul Vitanyi born July 21, , a scientist in the theory of computation. During the s, s, and s, general semantics entered the idiom of science fiction. Notable examples include the works of A. General semantics appear also in Robert A. Heinlein's work, especially Gulf. Bernard Wolfe drew on general semantics in his science fiction novel Limbo. Frank Herbert's novels Dune and Whipping Star are also indebted to general semantics.

The ideas of general semantics became a sufficiently important part of the shared intellectual toolkit of genre science fiction to merit parody by Damon Knight and others; they have since shown a tendency to reappear in the work of more recent writers such as Samuel R. William Burroughs references Korzybski's time binding principle in his essay The Electronic Revolution , and elsewhere. Postman's student Lance Strate , a co-founder of the Media Ecology Association, served as executive director of the Institute of General Semantics from to The structural differential is a physical chart or three-dimensional model illustrating the abstracting processes of the human nervous system.