Science-Fiction and Cognition

  • Philippe Mather


SCIENCE-FICTION AND COGNITION Science-fiction (SF) is a paradoxical genre insofar as it combines realism (scientific verisimilitude) and fantasy (free speculations about estranged worlds). It represents a kind of impossible marriage between reason (science) and emotion (fiction). This tension is evoked by an image of the android Roy Batty from Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner (1982), which appears on the front cover of a collection of essays edited in 1999 by Carl Plantinga and Greg Smith, titled Passionate Views: Film, Cognition, and Emotion. Thus SF has a cognitive dimension, which can be linked primarily to its scientific ideology, as well as an affective dimension, that expresses itself through feelings of estrangement and wonder. How can one account for the semiotic mechanisms that produce meaning and emotion in SF film, in a way that explains the interaction between these two apparently antithetical components? This essay will compare a selection...