< What is the crackpot?
Solomon Kane >

[Comments] (1) : I couldn't fit this anywhere in the previous entry. Today when I come up with an invalid cosmology I generally let it die. But when I was younger I would come up with science fiction stories about it (I had a pretty good one about the planetary model of the atom). Eventually my definition of "science fiction" shifted to exclude this kind of counterfactual, but lately others have been using them.

One of the three stories I liked in Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others took place in the cosmology of ancient Babylon. In ancient Babylon, the story would have been a 50s pulp story with a lame twist at the end. But because we know the universe doesn't work that way, it was an exploration of large-scale counterfactuals, as big as the ones you get in grand space opera. So this pre-Socratics book is making me think about going back to messing with the cosmology in stories. Except not the way I did when I was twelve.

But also I was thinking, if science fiction had been around in antiquity, it might have explored the plethora of cosmologies offered by the Greeks. Aliens would not just look different from us or have a different psychology; they'd be from a different cosmology. For instance, Diogenes thought that air was the motive force behind life and intelligence. How would that work? What if a person from that cosmology spent a lot of time breathing the same air as someone from our cosmology? I guess we could still find out.


Posted by Zack at Thu Sep 21 2006 00:30

Richard Garfinkle's Celestial Matters is, apart from being written by a modern author, exactly a science fiction novel set in the Aristotleian cosmology [which oddly enough also happens to be Taoist, and thence hangs the tale...] Not the greatest book ever, but I think you'd like it.

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