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Matter and mutability: Presence and affect in other worlds

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The behaviour of matter and the affect of gravity, whether real or hypothetical, have often acted as a source for imaginative speculation. In science fiction many of these ideas have been discussed in relation to human consciousness. This article considers the literary work of Stanislaw Lem and Italo Calvino, both of whom employ the metaphor of the mutability of matter to explore affect in other worlds. Extending the laws of physics by placing narratives in other, stranger worlds enables the writer to experiment with the interface or threshold between substance and thought. Calvino moulds and structures the matter of the Universe to human form and thought, whereas in Solaris (Stanislaw Lem, 1970), Lem creates a cold and almost incomprehensible Universe outside of the limits of human intellect or consciousness.
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Keywords: Earth–Moon system; Italo Calvino; Stanislaw Lem; science fiction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Plymouth

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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  • Technoetic Arts focuses upon the juncture between art, technology and the mind. Divisions between academic areas of study, once rigidly fixed, are gradually dissolving due to developments in science and cultural practice. This fusion has had a dramatic effect upon the scope of various disciplines. In particular, the profile of art has radically evolved in our present technological culture
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