The “Invasion” of Chaos Theory and Science Fiction in Space Law
SAT, 22.10.16 | 3pm
The influence of science-fiction literature can be detected in the advancements of space law during the first space race of the 1950s and ’60s. Space law was inherently science fictional in that it legislated practices in advance of their technical feasibility; at the time, the main concern was to prevent the use of outer space for military purposes. Hence the 1967 Outer Space Treaty established that the moon and other celestial bodies are not subject to national appropriation.
This presentation analyzes the semiotic content of space law and compares it with golden-age science fiction. While space law might have its origins in the Sputnik crisis, repeated stories of invasion from outer space and of planetary colonialism have influenced space law and give insights into the triangular relationship between science fiction, law, and technology. So far, there has been little academic effort to understand why science-fiction literature became encoded in space law as a constitution for cornucopia; haunted, though, by a dystopian future. I will engage with the work of Stanisław Lem and his interpretation and use of chaos theory to analyze the lack of the imaginative and the speculative in both science fiction and space law. Particularly, Lem’s ideas about how writing should create “a mediating space in which openness and closure, chaos and order, creation and ratiocination engage each other” (Katherine Hayles) can be used to critique science fiction’s failure to act as a creator of the future and of civilization.