Dreams and Nightmares: Science and Technology in Myth and Fiction

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Roshwald, Mordecai. Dreams and Nightmares: Science and Technology in Myth and Fiction. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008.

Roshwald is the author of Level 7 (1959), a very important work of post-apocalypse fiction of the nuclear holocaust variety. His Dreams and Nightmares is reviewed, very briefly and negatively, by Thomas J. Morrissey, SFRA Review #285 (Spring 2008): pp. 17-18.[1]

Its methodology is to discuss selected fictional representations of the human response to the open question of our capacity to handle tool-making responsibly. The chapters move through the history of the Western world from biblical and classical times to 1959, the year in which A Canticle for Leibowitz and Roshwald’s Level 7 appeared. Later chapters address specific topics such as evolution, robotics, behavioral conditioning, and nuclear war. Individual chapters are heavy on straight plot summary and light on original observations. Although most of the exemplary texts are classics, there is little attempt to explain why these were chosen over others. Among the science fiction classics treated are Frankenstein, From the Earth to the Moon, The Island of Dr. Moreau, We, and Brave New World. There is no SF after 1959 [...].

Morrissey suggests readers might want to use Dreams and Nightmares as "a companion piece to Level 7," which we think a good idea, plus as a look backward on relevant topics by a serious thinker of the mid-20th century.

RDE, finishing, 12Jan21