How Dumb Are Big Dumb Objects? OOO, Science Fiction, and Scale

Raino Isto 1
  • 1 Mott Community College, , Flint, United States of America


This article considers the potential intersections of object-oriented ontology and science fiction studies by focusing on a particular type of science-fictional artifact, the category of ‘Big Dumb Objects.’ Big Dumb Objects is a terminology used—often quite playfully—to describe things or structures that are simultaneously massive in size and enigmatic in purpose: they stretch the imagination through both the technical aspects of their construction and the obscurity of their purpose. First used to designate the subjects of several science fiction novels written in the 1970s, Big Dumb Objects (often called BDOs) have been understood in terms of science fiction’s enduring interest in the technological sublime and the transcendental. While object-oriented ontology has often turned to science fiction and weird fiction for inspiration in rethinking the possibilities inherent in things and their relations, it has not considered the implications of BDOs for a theory of the object more broadly. The goal of this article is to consider how extreme size and representations of scale in science fiction can help expand an understanding of the object along lines that are similar to those pursued by object-oriented ontology, especially Timothy Morton’s notion of hyperobjects.

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