Fiction

Cast Not a Shadow

In the darkness, the Buddha is a light. Cast not a shadow, and align your soul with what is right. Such was the verse inscribed above the entrance to the Chamber of Light, hidden a mile within the Kitala Mountains. Alaria knew that those words were a fleck of eternity, cast upon the ever-changing canvas of the world. Yet the verse was not just a remote, noble truth, but a command. Although the gilded bronze in which it was written was like garish face-paint over the enduring stone, it helped train Alaria’s mind on her task as she followed the four monks into the chamber. The thin brown cloak over her naked body provided little warmth in the … [continue]

Reviews

From Facehuggers to Thought-Provokers

Like the films which are its inspiration, Alien and Philosophy: I Infest, Therefore I Am is not a book for the fainthearted. It may be the latest in a successful series that draws on popular culture to explore philosophical concepts, but the writers broach ideas that stretch in many different directions. They collectively name-check every intellectual from Arthur Schopenhauer to Noël Coward amidst a series of contributions that cover … [continue]

Interviews

The Philosophy of the Alien Films: Interview with Jeffrey A. Ewing

Released in 1979, Ridley Scott’s Alien combined H.R. Giger’s disturbing aesthetics with a tremendous cast, most of whom were viciously slaughtered before the film was done. Alien pulled off the trick of adding new ingredients to a rich tradition in storytelling, reimagining a classic horror scenario whilst taking the bogeymen to a new level. Its sequel, Aliens, proved just as successful, though director James Cameron shifted the franchise towards exhilarating and full-bodied action. The series has since spawned another four films (not counting the Alien vs. Predator spin-offs) that have continued to offer a mix of violent action and brooding horror. This gory combination of genres has nevertheless resulted in films which touch on many philosophical and scientific issues, including reproductive rights and the right to life, the status of intelligent machines, and the relationship between genetics and freedom. And so a group of scholars have used the Alien franchise to explore a variety of ideas which are presented in Alien and Philosophy: I Infest, Therefore I Am, which was published a few months ago. As part of the process of reviewing the book I contacted its editor, Jeffrey Ewing, and asked him to discuss the concepts with me. Jeff kindly agreed, and our exchange lead … [continue]

Fiction

So Be It

Allocation Day had arrived. Like everyone else, Amen put on his threadbare robes. He ate his meagre food, and, like everyone else, he had some free time to finalise his preparations. Amen went over the rules again: You have one reset button. You have three lives. Direct contact is not possible. Simple rules, but he knew from his lessons how important they were if one of the class was going to make a breakthrough. When everyone was ready, they filed into the pod arena where the grid matrix map of the universe hung suspended before them. Once all twenty-seven of them had taken their standing positions, the doors were sealed shut behind them. A tiny orange identification cube glowed off-centre. This little cube was their first sight of their new worlds. The suspended matrix of the universe map zoomed in … [continue]