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Technology in Literature

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Technology in Literature

Religion is a prominent topic in literature. One of the most major works of literature written is the Bible, a book wholly devoted to religion. Other literature genres regularly discuss religious issues. One genre where it is often not expected but frequently found is Science Fiction. Some Science Fiction deals with religion as a major theme, such as Dune. Many references are not quite as obvious however they are still apparent. In short stories by Philip K. Dick, and Isaac Asimov, as well as the novel Software by Rudy Rucker, religion is a theme that is expressed in many different ways.

Religion appears many places in the stories included in I, Robot by Asimov. In the story “Reason,” the robot known as Cutie begins to consider his existence. He begins by declaring “For you to make me seems improbable,” explaining that an inferior creature could not possibly create a superior one. Cutie is faced with viewing a new robot being put together to prove that Powell and Donovan “created” him, but Cutie explains that all they did was put him together, that was not the same as creating something. Cutie decides that his visual sensors just give illusions when confronted with the idea of space and planets. Eventually he forms his own religion in which he declares himself a prophet. His work as prophet involves maintaining the space station and all its workings. This is exactly what he was built to do but the robot Cutie, takes it as messages from the Master that he is required to fulfill. The humans who interact with Cutie have interesting reactions to Cuties religion. They seem to find it silly that Cutie believes in the Master, and of course their reactions are well founded since they know that Cutie was created by US Robotics; however, many humans in their time also believed in god-like beings. In the end Powell and Donovan decided it did not matter what Cutie believed as long as he did his job.

Another reference to religion is in the story “Escape,” This reference is not nearly as blunt but almost as comical as the Cutie situation. A Hyperatomic Drive was desired to be built but the largest problem was that no human could be alive during a hyperatomic jump. The Brain was told that the First Law was not as important as usual so it allowed for the humans momentary death during the jump. During their death, Powell and Donovan experienced the computer’s simulated perception of death. There was a horrific bureaucracy about the means of getting into heaven and hell. This momentary death was an amusement created by the brain. It shows that not only are robot aware of the beliefs of humans but they also understand the fears that religion instills in the human. Another view on the death experiences was that the Brain did not actually control these “dreams” as it could not be explained how the Brain would do such a thing, and that these were the real death experiences rather than simulations.

The basic message that Asimov seems to be saying is that while we may believe in something greater than ourselves, there really is not. Anything larger than humanity would be something similar to Cutie’s perception of Earth, merely an illusion. The fact that the Brain created an idea of what death would be like, another illusion, is further evidence of this. If there really was something bigger than us, a God, then the Brain would not have needed to create an afterlife scenario, one would have just occurred without the Brain’s input.

In Philip K. Dick’s story “Fair Game” the idea of what is bigger than humanity is examined. Many religions believe in God as a creature that takes care of his people. Other religions view their gods as something more similar to the Titans where they are beings removed from humans but occasionally meddle in the lives of humans. This story takes the later view. To the gods in this story, earth is just a lake in which to fish, with humanity being the fish. The gods lead Professor Douglass through a number of hallucinations and eventually catch him. He is later served as their main course

The story “The Turning Wheel” deals with the theme of religion extensively. The basic social setting strongly resembles the Buddhist religion. Men concern themselves with their next lifetime, making sure to perform good deeds in the current so they may progress to higher levels of enlightenment in the next. In this society people of Asian background are the highest caste with Caucasians as the lowest caste. The arts are the most important areas of profession and as such the Caucasian people are laborers. The upper casts do not believe most technology is good and that it causes remediation in the next lifetime. As a result scientific discoveries are outdated and simple things such as penicillin are not even understood. The bard, Sung Wu, is sent to

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