Misanthropic Aspects of Science Fiction: The Examples of Battlestar Galactica and Borislav Pekić’s Atlantis

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v17i4.7

Keywords:

misanthropolgy, misanthropy, humanism, anthropology, Borislav Pekić, Atlantis, Battlestar Galactica, social suffering

Abstract

Anthropological interest in science fiction derives from the fact that works of science fiction, while depicting imaginary worlds, actually speak about existing human communities. This paper looks at how misanthropy is communicated in science fiction works, specifically, in Borislav Pekić’s novel Atlantis (Atlantida), first published in 1988, and the TV series Battlestar Galactica, which originally aired between 2003 and 2009. The theme of both works is essentially the same: the end of human history in its present form and the attempt to create a better civilization, all of this resulting from a long-standing conflict between humans and their biggest historical mistake – robots. The subject matter of the two works is also the same: having reached a high level of technological and spiritual development, humans design robots to replace them first in the most difficult jobs, and then in everyday tasks; the robots develop self-awareness and rise against their makers, and then come to believe that they should replace people and rectify all the errors and shortcomings they have identified in them as beings and also in their social development and organization, and eventually achieve deification by surpassing their makers and initiating their own independent and – compared to humans – more just history. The novel and the series have in common, not only with each other but also with many other science fiction works, a pessimistic view of human existence: a proneness to corruptibility in terms of morals and actions as a human characteristic, and its embedding and presence in the modes of human cultural thought and social organization and actions, represent a distinct, misanthropic thematic dimension in science fiction. This is particularly apparent when the acts of othering and institutional inflicting of evil on Others are considered. This is contrary to the humanistic ideal of humanity as an essential, ennobling quality of human beings. Science fiction works that problematize misanthropy as a sociocultural category suggest that human society reflects human nature: human communities are a product of human mental and material organization, and thus the lack of agreement between proclaimed social and cultural values and corresponding behavior represents a product of human thought and actions. What follows from this in Battlestar Galactica and Atlantis is that robots are like people: they know of no values other than human ones, hence their society is similar to human societies. They strive to evolve and thus distance themselves from their makers, yet it turns out that their patterns of behaviour towards Others and their tendency to other those among them who do not think like them or refuse to behave like them, are identical to those of humans.

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Published

2022-12-30

How to Cite

Žikić, Bojan. 2022. “Misanthropic Aspects of Science Fiction: The Examples of Battlestar Galactica and Borislav Pekić’s Atlantis”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 17 (4):1265–1292. https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v17i4.7.

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