Stories to explode your mind.

As you might have guessed from posts like this one, I am a huge fan of the technique of using a fictional story to get across an idea or a concept. The following are links to some of my favourite examples of this underrated art form, more or less in order of preference.

1. Scott Aaronson, On Self-Delusion and Bounded Rationality. Clearly inspired by the classic sci-fi story “Flowers for Algernon“, Aaronson’s own fable is a meditation on what it means to be rational.

2. Nick Bostrom, The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant. I’ve mentioned Bostrom before, but I was unaware of his storytelling powers until I came across this gem. Here, he weaves a story that cleverly gets the reader on his side, before drawing back the curtain to show us what was really at stake the whole time.

3. Eliezer Yudkowski, Zombies: The Movie. For a change of tone, I love this light-hearted jab at philosopher David Chalmer’s idea of a philosophical zombie, in the form of a movie-script.

Finally, although it is in a somewhat different vein to the above links, I have to mention the work of writer Greg Egan, which epitomizes the concept of “hard sci-fi”: flights of the imagination conceived not only in the spirit of modern science, but in its very clothing. Excerpts from his novels and complete versions of his short stories can be read online here.

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2 thoughts on “Stories to explode your mind.

  1. David Lodge also does this in his fiction, notably “Nice Work” (I’ll never smoke Silk Cut cigarettes in the same way…). And of course, Ray Bradbury and other science fiction writers are exemplars of this method.

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