No Cure for the Future

Disease and Medicine in Science Fiction and Fantasy

by Gary Westfahl, George Slusser


Offers a broad study of the history of medicine in science fiction and fantasy literature and film as well as detailed examinations of some of the field's greatest works.

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Cover image for No Cure for the Future

September 2002


Pages 192
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics The Arts/General
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Speculations about new medical advances have been a crucial aspect of science fiction since its origins in the 19th century, when such novels as Frankenstein and The Island of Dr. Moreau provided powerful mythic images of doctors with godlike abilities to create and transform human life. This book is the first full-length study of the speculative literature of medicine, with contributions by two science fiction novelists and several noted scholars. Chapters examine how science fiction stories have commented on and influenced the medical establishments of the past and present. But the volume also considers the strangely marginalized status of medical science fiction, concluding that the doctor's traditional focus on maintaining the health of the human body conflicts at a fundamental level with the genre's desire to transcend the human body.

The first section provides broad surveys of the history of medical science fiction, ranging from 19th-century classics to major films of the 1990s. The second offers detailed examinations of important texts and series, including Guy de Maupassant's Le Horla, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, James White's Sector General stories, the Alien films, and the Terminator films. A concluding bibliography lists more than 500 science fiction and fantasy novels, stories, films, and television programs involving disease and medicine as well as relevant nonfiction works and critical studies.

Author Info

Gary Westfahl is adjunct professor at the University of La Verne, CA. His previous books include No Cure for the Future (2002), Unearthly Visions (2002), Worlds Enough and Time (2002), Science Fiction, Canonization, Marginalization, and the Academy (2002), Science Fiction, Children's Literature, and Popular Culture (2000), Space and Beyond (2000), and Cosmic Engineers (1996), all available from Greenwood Press.

George Slusser is professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Riverside. He has written several books about science fiction authors and coedited numerous scholarly studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Of Plagues, Predictions, and Physicians by Gary WestfahlPopulation StudiesThe Science Fiction of Medicine by H. Bruce FranklinThe Missionary Physician, from Asclepius to Kevorkian by Frank McConnellNo Cure for the Future: How Doctors Struggle to Survive in Science Fiction by Kirk Hampton and Carol MacKayFrom Dr. Frankenstein to Dr. McCoy: M.D.s and Ph.D.s in Science Fiction by Joseph D. MillerCase HistoriesThe Immunology of Science Fiction: Maupassant's "Horla," The Medical Frame, and the Evolution of Genres by George SlusserSurgical Evolution, or, The Scalpel as Shortcut: The Doctor as Interface between Science Fiction and Horror by David HinckleySickness unto Death: Heart of Darkness and Journey to the End of the Night by David K. KanowBig Brother as Doctor: Curing the Disease of Thoughtcrime in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four by Robert Van CleaveDoctor's Ordeals: The Sector General Stories of James White by Gary WestfahlDoctors of the Mind: Effective Mental Therapy and Its Implications by Greg Bear1950s Science Fiction Film Doctors and the Battle between Individualism and Conformity by Susan A. GeorgeSynthetics, Humanity, and the Life Force in the Alien Quartet by Mary PharrThe Body Apocalyptic: Theology and Technology in Films and Fictions of the MIME Era by Howard V. HendrixBibliography of Science Fiction Works Involving Disease and Medicine



[u]seful as a first reference on this topic.—Science Fiction Studies

Other Titles of Interest

Worlds Enough and Time cover imageThe Fantastic Vampire cover imageScience Fiction, Canonization, Marginalization, and the Academy cover image
Unearthly Visions cover imageThe Supernatural in Short Fiction of the Americas cover imageMonsters, Mushroom Clouds, and the Cold War cover image

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