Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future
Volume One: Prometheus to the Martians
Science fiction is the most visible and influential contemporary form of futurist thinking and imagination in the modern world. Similar in many ways to the great myths of the past, science fiction is so popular because, in dramatic narrative form, it speaks to the whole person—intellect, imagination, emotion, human values, and the senses— providing fantastical and visionary stories that engage and enlighten us, expanding our consciousness and inspiring our ongoing evolution in the future. Beginning with this first volume in a four-volume series, Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future describes the historical development of science fiction from its ancient mythological origins up through contemporary times, explaining how science fiction has emerged as our modern mythology, and how science fiction has both reflected and guided the evolution of human consciousness, society, and scientific-technological imagination and creation.
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Thomas Lombardoʼs “Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future” puts the history of science fiction in the much broader context of the evolution of human future consciousness through the ages. The fresh and inspiring perspective of regarding science fiction as evolutionary mythology of the future opens up new ways to consider its roots and the intellectual developments that fed into it—from ancient myths and Greek philosophy through pivotal medieval thinkers to the nineteenth century. The book is tremendously well researched, based on an intimate knowledge of the history of mythology and philosophy and, last but not least, it breathes the huge enthusiasm of its author for science fiction. Volume one of the planned series is an inspiring reading as well for the academic as for the lover of science fiction—with lots of insights into its sources and evolutionary stages, its main tributaries and overarching themes. On the whole the book presents a grand vision of the role of science fiction in the progress of human consciousness.
Dr. Karlheinz Steinmüller, Science Fiction Author and Futurist, Winner of the Kurd Lasswitz Award
Lombardoʼs book is a brilliant piece of work and I loved reading it. For us who love science fiction, Lombardo's excellent book should not only become a 'must read' but ʻobligatoryʼ. The high level of reflections, the many funny examples, the personal approach, and how he succeeds in demonstrating how science fiction, as narratives of the future, is so much more than technological extrapolations and special effects, leave behind a totally different perspective on science fiction than the one dominating our popular contemporary conception of the field. I simply love the way Lombardo approaches the field!
Dr. Erik F. Øverland, President of the World Futures Studies Federation
Thomas Lombardoʼs magisterial exploration of science fictionʼs mythological dimension is meticulously researched but personal and accessible. I wish Iʼd had this to read when I began writing science fiction, and I know it will be invaluable to futures researchers who want to incorporate science-fictioning as a part of their practice. I eagerly look forward to the next volume.
Karl Schroeder, Science Fiction Author of Lady of Mazes, Ventus, and Sun of Suns
A spectacular read! Informative. Engaging. Insightful. I learned so much from reading it. The book is full of revelations, and gave me a new way to think about Western Civilization. Indeed, the central premise was astonishing—that science fiction—so often trivialized—is in fact a mythology that guides us towards our collective future. An amazing symmetry created with The War of the Worlds at the beginning and end of the book. I fully agree with the superlatives by many experts about the depth and quality of Tomʼs work.
Tim Ward, Author of Indestructible You and The Master Communicatorʼs Handbook
Once again, Dr. Lombardo has taken a subject previously visited by many other writers and brought a new eye and a broader vision in his analysis of the cultural history of science fiction. I heartily endorse his decision to look much earlier for the roots of the genre than is usual and his expansive view of what influences to include in his analysis. It is this sort of rich discussion that has consistently rewarded me as a reader of his work over the years. I look forward to the second volume.
Timothy C. Mack, Esq., Former President World Future Society and Founder of AAI Foresight
A rich and enthusiastic account of science fiction's power to help us imagine the future. Tom Lombardo's book is a celebration and inspiration.
Dr. Bryan Alexander, Futurist, Speaker, Writer. Teacher, Consultant, Homesteader, Author of Gearing Up for Learning Beyond K-12 and The New Digital Storytelling
For those interested in science fiction, cultural history, or the interplay of myth, science, and literature, Tom Lombardo has given us a veritable cornucopia of fascinating and enlightening information about science fiction and its place in the story of civilization. For those of us interested in the history of ideas and especially the role played by science fiction in the evolution of consciousness and our awareness of the future, Lombardoʼs work will be the touchstone for many years to come.
Dr. Leslie Combs, CIIS Professor and Director of the Center of Consciousness Studies and President of The Society of Consciousness Studies
Tom Lombardo dives into some of the eternal questions of science fiction, its relationship with tomorrow, with the universe, and with the vastly more complex realm within each human brain and heart.
David Brin, Science Fiction Author of Startide Rising, The Uplift War, The Postman, and Existence
From the viewpoint of a French social scientist, passionate reader and teacher of science fiction, and an international futurist, I can witness the huge yet mostly undervalued impact of science fiction on the way we create our images of the future. With his new book, Tom Lombardo adds a much needed contribution to the path begun with Berger and Pollack. Too often considered as a literary sub-gender, science fiction is indeed a deep revealer of our world views, paradigms, hopes, fears, and blind spots. Digging even deeper, Tom clearly exposes the postmodernity of science fiction as a contemporary myth founder, building the hopes and opening the possibilities for disruptive novelty to happen. The amazingly broad and accurate knowledge Tom displays along his diachronic brilliant analysis has already made of this first volume a "must-read" and a now necessary reference book in the study both of the science fiction and of the future.
Fabienne Goux-Baudiment, Founding member of the French Society for Foresight and Former President of the World Futures Studies Federation
Thomas Lombardo has provided a comprehensive exploration of science fiction as a model for integrating the studies of human evolution, scientific progress, and mythological narratives, ultimately advancing our understanding of and relationship with the future. The dramas (and comedies) that flow through these diverse stories both challenge us to face our fears of the unknown and inspire us to envision possibilities, of which the future—like the imagination—holds multitudes.
Cynthia Wagner, Consulting Editor for AAI Foresight and former Editor of The Futurist
In this remarkable book, Tom Lombardo views science fiction as a form of evolutionary mythology for the future. Rather than being juvenile and superficial, it is actually conscious-raising and expansive, enabling its readers to experience their personal connection to the cosmos. In this reader-friendly book, Lombardo uses selections from well-known science fiction authors to exemplify his points. Once readers finish their journey through these pages, I suspect that they will never peruse science fiction stories or novels the same way again!
Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Saybrook University, Co-author of Personal Mythology
Mythologyʼs Scientific Evolution: Tom Lombardoʼs new history of science fiction seems every bit as comprehensive in scope and meticulous in detail as his last publication, Future Consciousness. Beyond scholarly, this first book of his multi-volume series reads like a labor of love. Lombardo views science fiction as a powerful public mythology attuned to our technologically advancing times. He begins with a cogent analysis of how ancient religions, cosmologies, and heroic sagas provided coherent world views that embodied shared mythologies, illuminating every aspect of daily life and culture with transcendent meaning. Using numerous examples from philosophy, literature, and emerging sciences, Lombardo then charts a detailed course through the centuries to the more widely creative and speculative scientific mythologies of our own times. This engaging history of science fiction suggests how the most sophisticated and thoughtful works of the genre can create “grand narratives” spanning all of space, time, and human experience, exploring manifold dimensions of inner spirit and outer cosmos. Offering mythological vistas hauntingly familiar yet newly imaginative, the best modern science fiction creates anew what Lombardo terms a “totally immersive” sense of the wondrous possibilities of being alive, in a mysteriously evolving and expansive cosmos awaiting our wise of choice possible futures.
Donald H. Sanborn, Associate Professor Emeritus, Philosophy and Humanities, City Colleges of Chicago
In the endless unrolling of postmodern epistemologies, it is critical to explore the narrative possibilities of alternative formats to objective and abstract reporting. In this regard, science fiction best captures the possibilities of storytelling to reach visions and envision futures way beyond what scientific exposition can do. Who better than Verne, Robida, and Wells, just to name a few, sketched the world as we experience it today in the previous century? In this new work, renowned futurist Tom Lombardo provides an extensive review of the history of the future as it once was in the words of writers, novelists, and talented minds within science fiction (as well as philosophy and science). This makes Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future a must have for both science fiction fans as well as professional futurists.
Dr. Marco Bevolo, Marco Bevolo Consulting, Lecturer and Researcher, NHTV University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands
As a futurist, it is part of my work to read science fiction. Iʼm lucky that I love it and always have. I had not previously considered the history of science fiction at any length: Tom Lombardoʼs book is helpful in this regard. I really enjoyed his introduction and his personal story of how he came to love science fiction—a journey not dissimilar to my own. From there, he examines the genre from a number of different perspectives, including mythology, ancient history to modern history, evolution, science, and extra- terrestrial adventures. In reading Lombardoʼs book, it interesting to see how the genre has developed over time and how it links into the human narrative. While not a light read, the book provides excellent food for thought. I look forward to Volume Two!
Patricia Lustig, Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce, CEO of LASA Insight Ltd and Author of Strategic Foresight: Learning from the Future
Professor Lombardoʼs encyclopedic assessment of science fiction as a uniquely evolutionary art form is mind candy of the highest order—must reading for serious fans of the genre.
Oliver Markley, Professor Emeritus, Graduate Studies of the Future, University of Houston-Clear Lake
The future is a contentious topic for many. Literature academics typically deride science fiction as a subpar genre while science academics belittle futures studies as a soft science even below most social sciences. However, as a combined topic, Lombardo explores humanity's perspectives of the future by tracing the history of the art of science fiction and the history of the scientific study of foresight, and shows how these two human endeavors, which often interweave, are noble attempts to intellectually grapple with the unknown and the unknowable while often inspiring human progress. It is a fascinating read for science fiction fans and academics alike.
Dennis Draeger, Futurist and Senior Researcher, Shaping Tomorrow
"This is an extraordinary labor of love, filled with summaries of stories, following the development of science fiction from the earliest tales to the rise of H. G. Wells. Readers not familiar with some of these stories will wonder at their prescience and in some cases how different from their conventional reputations they can be. In his commentary, Lombardo gives these stories thought-provoking context with respect to progressive versus cyclical views of history, naturalistic versus magical trappings, utopian versus dystopian viewpoints, and other contemporary literary coordinates. With an appropriately large bibliography, this work should become an essential addition to the bookshelves of people interested in the history of science fiction."
Gerald David Nordley, Science Fiction Author of To Climb a Flat Mountain and British Interplanetary Society Member and Author of Mass Beam Propulsion: An Overview.
As a foresight practitioner, science fiction is an important part of my work. Tom Lombardoʼs book provides foresight practitioners with a great foundation of knowledge about science fiction as mythology and a serious source of future stories and thoughts to inspire the people and organizations they work with. Professionals who concern themselves with the future should read this book to gain more insights into their own myths about the future as well as to broaden their minds. The book provides an overview of important questions about the future of humankind and how we as a society decide how to shape our future. Tom Lombardoʼs book gives us insight in classic and modern science fiction and best of all points out that there is hope for the future.
Silke den Hartog - de Wilde, School of Foresight, Netherlands
I cannot think of anyone better equipped to write on science fiction than Tom Lombardo. He is an excellent researcher and writer. He is also the only person I know who can explain how the dominant themes in science fiction have evolved over time, showing how breakthroughs or crises in science, technology, society, and the human psyche, are reflected in the science fiction of the day. In this book, Tom convincingly shows how science fiction is the new evolutionary mythology of the future; he demonstrates how evolutionary thought has greatly influenced not only science, but all science fiction writing. Also, Tom describes how science fiction writers have creatively explored many alternative future scenarios for humans, helping to clarify the many dangers, challenges, and positive opportunities, as humanity moves at an accelerating rate into the future. As a professional psychologist, he is also able to explore important questions of human consciousness and how humans can evolve their consciousness to deal with accelerative technological change. I recommend this book most wholeheartedly.
Dr. Linda Groff, Emeritus Professor, Political Science & Futures Studies, California State University
Tom first encountered the Martians in the movies when he was six years old and has never left science fiction since. With great knowledge about the most important authors and influential ideas through the centuries, Tom takes us on a journey into the unknown and introduces us to diverse ways of reflection on the deepest issues of existence and human reality, covering areas such as philosophy, mythology, and science along the way. For Tom, the history of science fiction reflects the history of humankind. Although the book delves into human history, its strength lies in the way it highlights an approach about the future for the future. Science fiction is the key to understanding our world, and his comprehensive treatment of the topic is a central virtue of the book. He shows us that we are capable of connecting our greatest ideals and deepest desires through living and feeling possible futures revealed in science fiction. As Tom states, science fiction is about the future of everything and not just about science and technology; it is about the hopes and fears of the human psyche.
Guillermina Baena Paz, Ph.D., Vice-President (Latin America) World Futures Studies Federation
Tom Lombardo knows science fiction—really knows it. I've heard him speak, and the passion and love he brings to the topic is electrifying.
Brenda Cooper, Science Fiction Author of Wilders, Edge of Dark, and Spear of Light
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