Brian Attebery

The Brain, the Self, and Metaphor in Science Fiction

Science fiction has always been a repository for and source of vivid images of the thinking self. Some of these include Victor Frankenstein’s monstrous experiment at the very beginning of the genre, the clockwork men of the mid-19th century, the swollen superbrains of pulp magazines, and the cyborgs of the late 20th century. Nowadays, it is common to imagine ourselves as software and our brains as organic computers, but writers such as Greg Egan and Ted Chiang challenge those assumptions, offering even stranger and perhaps more useful metaphors for our inner lives.