Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Thu Apr 16 23:57:39 UTC 2009

I just noticed the existence of this absurd book 
(an evaluation I make only on the basis of reviews):

TECHNOPHOBIA!: Science Fiction Visions of 
Posthuman Technologies, by Daniel Dinello - University of Texas Press (2005).

Here's a review:


Fear of the Future

By Cheryl Morgan

There are basically two ways to approach an 
academic study: one is to look at the material 
and come to conclusions based on what you find; 
the other is to start out with a theory and look 
for material that confirms it. Technophobia! by 
Daniel Dinello is a classic example of the 
latter. The thesis of the book is very simple. 
Dinello believes that science fiction is 
inherently technophobic, and that its purpose is 
to warn us about the evils of science and technology.

OK folks, jaws up off the floor please. I’m being 
serious here. That is what the book is about. The 
story goes a little like this. Dinello opens up 
by stating his opposition to George W. Bush and 
the military-industrial complex, not to mention 
everything DARPA. He then goes on to talk about 
technoevangelists such as Ray Kurzweil. Unlike 
Joel Garreau in 
Evolution, he appears to regard them as dangerous 
lunatics who Must Be Stopped. The rest of the 
book is devoted to finding examples from science 
fiction of just how awful the future will be if 
Kurzweil and his crazy friends are allowed to have their way.

If this sounds a little froth at the mouth, I 
should point out that Dinello defines his title is a fairly restrained way:

The book’s title, Technophobia, is meant to 
suggest an aversion to, dislike of, or suspicion 
of technology rather than an irrational, illogical or neurotic fear.

He also admits:

Of course, not all science fiction is 
technophobic, and not all scientists serve 
military-industrial interests ­ just most.

On the whole book is clearly and cogently argued. 
A solid case is made. But that doesn’t stop Dinello from concluding:

In its devotion to technophobia, science fiction 
paints a repulsive picture of a future world 
where technology runs out of control and 
dominates all aspects of human behavior. 
Technology’s inherent structure requires 
suppression of human spontaneity and obedience to 
its requirements of order and efficiency. This 
extends the social controls initiated by the 
cybernetic ideological system. Asimov’s laws of 
robotic obedience have been reversed into 
technology’s laws for human submission.

How, one might ask, can anyone come to such a 
bizarre conclusion? I know an awful lot of 
science fiction authors, and most of them are 
technophiles of one shade or another. Most fans I 
have talked to about Dinello’s ideas have reacted 
with astonishment and/or laughter. How can 
Dinello have misunderstood SF so badly? I read the whole book just to find out.

One of ways in which you can come to this 
conclusion is, of course, to concentrate mainly 
on movies. The majority of the material in 
Dinello’s book is based on media SF rather than 
on the written word. For example, he very much 
approves of Michael Crichton (even though 
Crichton is a big favorite at the White House 
because of his support for the denial of global warming).


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