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Playing the Universe

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The ludic impulse is everywhere in western culture. Games and play provide metaphors for our lives. Stories of games, sports, and play are found everywhere in our imaginative literature as well - from folk tales, to novels of athletic success for young adults, to mainstream novels about chess, to a wide array of science fiction stories and novels. It is the ludic element that we find in the latter - science fiction literature, film, games - that is the subject of the essays collected in this volume. Science fiction plays dice with the universe, as one of the essays here suggests; that is, nowadays artists play more and more with science fiction. It is both remarkable and telling that science fiction stories are the most likely to circulate culture - from book to movie to comic to game to TV series to fan fiction. On the way, writers, graphic artists, directors and many others play with the stories. Many of the resultant artifacts are blatantly commercial, and one of the contributions suggests why SF lends itself so readily to various forms of remixing, but there are gems, too, in which this inter-textual and inter-generic play results in truly astonishing scenarios. Grouped in four distinct categories: Literature, Film, Gaming and Intermedia, the 19 essays by 23 authors collected in Playing the Universe examine the games and play of science fiction in a number of highly divergent texts, in a wide range of media, from a variety of critical perspectives. Very appropriately, early versions of a number of the essays were presented at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Science Fiction Research Association in - where else! - Las Vegas, Nevada, the home of games and play for the modern adult world. In one of his essays Peter Lamborn Wilson (who also incidentally - or perhaps not - co-edited the cutting-edge Semiotext(e) SF volume) suggested that "the universe wants to play." The ideal partner because of its nature, science fiction plays with the universe. And there haven't been better times to watch. And participate.


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UMCS – Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej
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