Letters from the Future

Science Fiction as Source Material for Thought Experiments Describing Potential Arctic Futures

Marcin Dymet

Abstract

Sociologists have long used the biographical approach as a research method. Diaries, memorials and personal correspondence are treated as existing source material, which can help enrich social knowledge about the life of social groups. This can embrace different genres, for instance autobiographical novels. These, although fictional, are still grounded in the reality of an author and can be utilized as material for social analysis. The same rules apply to science fiction literature. Worlds presented in it are versions of the future or alternative realities, anchored frequently in the present time. Throughout history, authors have been using science fiction as a social and political commentary for their contemporary world. These thought experiments represent valuable material to help analyse the policies of the present and predict future forms of society in the rapidly changing world supersaturated with new technologies. In the present article, the idea of using biographical method to analyse Arctic science fiction is presented. The article explores the mutual interrelation of climate change, the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), and digital citizenship in the Arctic region. Science fiction is considered from the perspective of thought experiment in which potential futures of the Arctic in relation to the three above-mentioned areas are imagined and constructed.

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