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Speculative Fictions for Understanding Global Change Environments: Two Thought Experiments


  • Noel Gough

    (Deakin University, Australia)


The purpose of a thought experiment, as the term was used by quantum and relativity physicists in the early part of the twentieth century, was not prediction (as is the goal of classical experimental science), but more defensible representations of present ‘realities’. Speculative fictions, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to the Star Wars cinema saga, can be read as sociotechnical thought experiments that produce alternative representations of present circumstances and uncertainties, and anticipate and critique possible futures. In this essay I demonstrate how two examples of popular speculative fictions, Frank Herbert's Dune (1965) and Ursula Le Guin's The Telling (2000), function as thought experiments that problematise global transitions in their respective eras. I argue that critical readings of such stories can help us to anticipate, critique, and respond constructively to social and cultural changes and change environments within nation-states that constitute, and are constituted by, global change processes and their effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Noel Gough, 2003. "Speculative Fictions for Understanding Global Change Environments: Two Thought Experiments," Managing Global Transitions, University of Primorska, Faculty of Management Koper, vol. 1(1), pages 5-27.
  • Handle: RePEc:mgt:youmgt:v:1:y:2003:i:1:p:5-27

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    JEL classification:

    • Z19 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Other


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