Simulacra and Science Fiction

Patrick Nagle, English 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University (Fall 2006)

Jean Baudrillard, in his essay "Simulacra and Science Fiction," describes three orders of simulacra:

simulacra that are natural, naturalist, founded on the image, on imitation and counterfeit, that are harmonious, optimistic, and that aim for the restitution or the ideal institution of nature made in God's image;

simulacra that are productive, productivist, founded on energy, force, its materialization by the machine and in the whole system of production — a Promethian aim of a continuous globalization and expansion, of an indefinite liberation of energy (desire belongs to the utopias related to this order of simulacra);

simulacra of simulation, founded on information, the model, the cybernetic game — total operationality, hyperreality, aim of total control (121).

He says that the second is the order of traditional science fiction, and the third has yet to develop a corresponding literary form. Cyberpunk fiction is a likely contender because it depicts vast global networks of information, exchange, and control, creates a postmodern pastiche of different cultures and beliefs, and constantly questions the shifting nature of identity.


Works Cited

Last modified 18 December 2006