The Natotevaal Recruits. War Chronicle
Foreword to the novel
“The Natotevaal Recruits. War
By Demidov A.G.
‘Imagination - is just a part,
although a significant one, of what usually denotes reality. Ultimately, it is
unknown to which of the two genres - reality or fiction our world
Philosophy and science fiction, like any other forms
of culture can interact in many different ways. Certainly not all their features
If Borges, for instance, describes philosophy as a kind of fiction
with inimitable literature-centrism, Derrida principally refuses to distinguish
between (fiction) literature and philosophy, and in the best case fiction
critics are only able to collect images and references to philosophy in science
fiction works, thus philosophical consideration of fiction is hardly a
In pursuit of reality, and in an attempt to lay the
foundation of scientific knowledge, philosophy not only ignored imagination and
fantasy along with their products (relating to purely subjective orders) but
systematically and consistently tried to get rid of them by all means, so as to
approach objectivity and - ideally - entirely possess it.
Only, perhaps, the
establishment of non-classical way of philosophizing, that allowed and even
suggested alternative interpretations of reality, has gradually changed the
attitude to fiction.
It is peculiar that almost at the same time - in the
second half of the XIX century - formation of proper literary fiction occurs (of
course: Jules Verne, G.Wells).
Only in the second half of the XX century
philosophy started to conduct special studies of the imaginary, virtual,
semantics of possible worlds, etc. (along with gaining fiction
However, actual fiction still remained below the horizon of
perception, although only fiction provides philosophy with a special field-space
for deploying extravagant concepts, as well as unique tools for modeling and
In order to highlight these features by heuristic fiction of
philosophy and outline the shapes of the appropriate project, it is useful to
see philosophy as an operator, which is applied to science fiction as a
If philosophy assumes the reflection of ultimate bases of culture
as a whole, claims to critically examine the diversity of the world in general,
then by the same gesture, which provides its versatility, condemns itself and
has to delve into the specifics of each particular cultural form, each area and
region of the world.
For instance, a mathematician studies mathematics, and a
musician - music, while figuring out how music differs from mathematics or what
comprises one or the other, is not of their concern, but the task of philosophy
in its applied sense, so to speak.
Of course, the point here is not about
each individual object as such - this table or that tree, though everything
depends on the approach.
Philosophy sprouts: in addition to the philosophy of
science separately appears the philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of physics
and philosophy of biology, along with philosophy of nature and philosophy of
culture - and even the philosophy of history, philosophy of law, philosophy of
art and so on and so forth.
Therefore, philosophy - in terms of its various
fields of application, which potentially generate not only its separate
directions, but whole disciplines - it is appropriate to consider it as an
operative: "philosophy X" or even "philosophy Y", where anything may serve as an
Another thing is that a simple permutation which
comprises a bare slogan or manifesto, would certainly be quite insufficient -
forming a research agenda requires more or less developed and reflexively drawn
In this case, philosophy, like phenomenological consciousness,
acquires sustainable intentionality, allowing not only to identify and
investigate the specificity of the corresponding sphere, but also - by revealing
its ultimate bases - achieve fundamental conceptual results.
Thus one of the
methods of interaction of various cultural dominions is implemented - by
reflecting one on/in the other, both are modified and thereby get an opportunity
to spread, fulfilling their programs with the new material.
speaking, the status of fiction in itself represents a major challenge, or
rather, a whole set of problems.
Fiction, first of all as a product of
imagination should seemingly confront reality or actuality: as nonexistent to
However, even the critics of traditional philosophical metaphysics
of presence has to acknowledge that everything we say, everything we can think
of, is there in a certain way, though differently (and therefore
non-metaphysical ontology should be based on a fundamentally different basis -
but that is another story), thus straight oppositions do not work and cannot
Secondly, fantasy as a set of art depicting/representing/describing the
imaginary, would have to confront realism, on the one hand, which also
reproduces reality and modernism and the avant-garde on the other, which more or
less avoid using references, eluding to the more or less understandable
(syntactic, semantic or pragmatic) performativity.
However, a critical review
of the so-called realism shows that realism, in its full and strict sense not
only did not and does not exist, but is generally impossible - because any
images of reality would inevitably be imagined (at least to the extent where we
distinguish one and the other); after all, this is indicated by the ability of
art photography, which directly and almost immediately (literally
photographically) reflects the reality, regardless of our perception of it. On
the other hand, a careful study of the indirect features of reference removes
the inflexibility of its contrast to performativity.
Thirdly, science fiction
is in no way related to one form of art, embodied - along with literature and,
say, painting - also in cinematography, theater, drawing, comic books, and
perhaps even in sculpture.
And even in amusement parks and - necessarily - in
computer games: if they can be classified as art, then to a very special,
In addition, even literary science fiction can neither be
classified as a genre, strictly speaking, because it brings together works of a
variety of genres (and also of different lines - a novel, a story, a
narrative..., space opera, alternative history, detective fiction...) nor as a
destination because it can quite easily include different styles (cyberpunk,
turbo-realism...), not to mention the traditional, more or less stable division
into the two main branches - the science fiction and fantasy.
fantasy forms a whole subculture - clubs, a system of conferences, journals and
symbols (souvenirs, "baubles", garments, toys, gadgets, meshes, artifacts...), a
variety of amateur performances and numerous communities; a set of games (such
as role-playing, and multi-user computer games - local network and online) -
perhaps, no other social formation can boast of such a
Nevertheless, it is permissible to speak of science fiction as a
phenomenon, the features of which science fiction philosophy is intended to
clarify, to such extent in which the entire conglomerate of this diverse
phenomena may be lawfully called in short, and to the extent that it can somehow
be separated from the rest.
Although we can talk about a more or less pure
forms of fiction in the first place - literature, painting, cinema, and
supposedly computer games.
Despite the fact that problems of philosophical
understanding of science fiction are extremely varied, we can try to group them
into a few main lines of problematization - according to the traditional matrix
of leading philosophical disciplines.
Ontology of fiction in this case will
include a series of issues related to the existential status of products of
imagination and fantasy, from mythological characters to heroes of art that
represent the original, separate reality - different from the usual, ordinary,
standard with its unprecedented novelty and uniqueness.
In fact, fantasy
creates special worlds, thus the study of specific rules for creating these
kinds of possible and impossible worlds will also refer here: just as
postmodernism discovers connections, that are solidly unbreakable, so the
rampant variety of fantasy worlds reveals some invariants.
For instance such
rules as: the coherency of individual components, fragments and elements; their
coordination with one another, fullness of all the emerging opportunities;
introduction of the main principle of realizing the scope of all possible layers
of meaning in the unity of conceivable horizon.
The situation of a seeming a
priori and absolute freedom of the creator in fiction paradoxically uncovers
some strange inner necessities and limits, that are defined not only by the
specifics of a selected representation language or the coherence of discursive
sequence, but also by some, clearly ontological terms-conventions.
and necessity turn out to be the reverse sides of each other, although not in
their dialectical sense.
The development of these new virtual worlds helps to
provide better arrangement and ontological characteristics of our world, and the
diversification of ontologies and related concepts - the conditions and limits
of the ontology itself.
Gnosseology of science fiction will include another
series of questions, seizing the ultimate learning experience, modeling of
exotic cognitive situations, analysis and presentation of objective
consciousness realised with the help of artificial means, as well as unique
means of detection and dispersal of visible illusions.
For example, an alien
- is a radical instance of removal that allows to adopt a maximally external
attitude and distinguish some features which would not be obvious otherwise: the
conventionality of the usual, customary, traditional and non-obviousness of the
Unexpected turns of events, large-scale coverage of the
grand space-time intervals, sophisticated scenery give the opportunity to see
the limits, denoted by the acknowledged meanings and boundaries of natural
intuitions and interpretations; realize the inert stereotypes of mundane
Fiction as knowledge finally undermines the solid oppositions
of the discovered/invented, the found/made, the real/imaginary.
modeling demonstrates the capabilities of the most flexible thinking and
creative ways of comprehending the world: the creation of exotic worlds can tell
something about our world also - regardless of whether the scientific or
mythological fiction base is being used.
The Heuristic Functions of fantasy
in general were among the first to be observed.
This is also backed by the
discussion of problems with communication and understanding, which can be seen
in colorful contrast to the highlighted situations of meeting of different
civilizations, cultures and societies that belong to different worlds, planets,
strata or layers of reality - in this sense, the well-known TV series «Star
Track» becomes the embodiment of the universal hermeneutic project as it
purposefully indicates a potentially infinite attainability of
The axiology of fiction includes another series of questions
that draw the attention to the subtle aspects of working with
Properly speaking, there is no such notion as values of fiction, of
course - not because it is impossible to estimate the products of fantasy (that
is quite possible), and not even because it is impossible to come up with things
or ideals, worthy of aspiring no less than ordinary and mundane (this is also
feasible, although with an even greater difficulty), but simply because it is
impossible to evaluate something that is make-believe: in a sense of combining
the perception of some value as a value, worthy of becoming a finite basis of
goal-setting, and - at the same time - as an arbitrary convention, that can
easily be replaced at any time, or freely given up.
Another thing is that
fiction provides a unique opportunity for revaluation of all values (almost
according to Nietzsche’s project), or at least for evaluating different versions
of the hierarchy of values and preferences.
But in any case, there should be
a certain binding to ones or the other values accepted as default, because
otherwise it would be impossible to perceive new, unusual and unfamiliar ideas
The utmost escapism is inevitably related to the main flow of
life - the question is always about the desire to escape from something and the
destination of running.
However, there are things which one can never get
away from - himself for example, - and this turns out to be the most important,
the most valuable thing, and that is what one has to deal with in the long run,
but in order to find this balance, everything has to be checked for strength and
sustainability - as well by the means of fiction.
Of course, the diversity of
aspects of fiction capabilities listed above is in no way exhaustive.
least two relatively autonomous aspects are worth mentioning separately, as they
are distinguished on other grounds.
The social aspect of science fiction -
and probably the most significant behind its limits - is primarily associated
with the expression and comprehension of the ideals of social order (directly
and primarily in the form of various utopias and anti-utopias - respectively,
the positive and the negative), and also provides the development of the future,
with a reinterpretation of the past (alternative history), with recovery of the
socio-cultural condition of the world and forming human relationships, not to
mention overcoming xenophobia and tolerance development.
For example, Rorty
highly appreciates the role of fantastic experiments carried out in the novels
of George Orwell, which help to understand the nature of a man, the formation of
the modern concept of a fair society and avoidance of violence.
By the way,
the heated debates on the program of so-called gender studies elegantly
complement the fictional models of societies, cultures and civilizations, built
on a completely different (from what we are used to) principles: it is not just
about the possibility of existing of other life forms (in one case - the
androgynous, and in the other - proclaiming and accepting dominance of
homosexual contacts over heterosexual), but also more exotic ways of existence -
the robots, for instance, which also happen to be discriminated like women,
blacks, gays, children and other peculiar characters.
Anyway - fiction is
indispensable in demonstration of the fundamental conditionality of all forms of
human interaction, even if it reproduces the steady absoluteness of the required
Finally, we could also mention the ability of fiction to act as an
emphasized workaround, as a form of Aesop′s language, which allows to disguise
ideological and political journalistic statements for works of art avoiding
censure, if such products in fact, do not belong to the fiction itself in a
quite indirect way.
The discursive aspect of fiction is primarily associated
with the means of its realization and perception.
The main question is what
conditions and assumptions are necessary for the existence of fiction as purely
fantastical, not accepted as a brazen lie, that is, or an attempt to mislead or
a story about reality.
After all, fiction is also expressed with initially
limited means (ordinary language - minimally modified, or built up); the fact
that these means are certainly excessive (realities, concepts, constructs,
concepts...); on the one hand, fiction works are unlike purely formal search
experiments of avant-garde and modernism, and on the other hand, from the
popular science literature, support the delicate balance of subtle contrasts of
the usual and unusual, explicable and wonderful, traditional and new, natural
For example, the metaphorical transfer is often used
inversely, if the standard step is to compare technical progress with natural or
magical, the device of reverse provides a unique effect.
Thus fiction forms,
constantly reproduces and maintains a special horizon of expectation in the
space of the absence of the true/false opposition, in other words, creates new
evidence with the help of the self-extracting code and its reader, who has a
taste for such a recoding and other similar intellectual procedures.
subject-indicating focus of language means is transformed by the means of
fiction discourse in the functioning process into subject-projecting, the goal
of which is to reveal the unprecedented.
Thus, science fiction acts as
discursively embodied means of literature and/or visual arts (painting, drawing,
sculpture, movie...) as something given, represented, described, but
nonexistent, but real and materialized at the same time - unlike, abstract art
The peculiarity of the fictional in this sense is mostly
defined by separation from the rest and self-restraint, by the act of mental
balancing in testing the different types of discourse.
The most widely open
and extremely pointed (though, again, not to a radical break) fiction discourse
becomes the generative source for filling the gaps in lacunae, detected in the
accepted discourse or the worldview.
Fiction is attractive due to its
invincible variety; it opens new conceptual space and carries away to an
amazing, wonderful, mysterious, unknown, unusual, supernatural and going beyond
Like a mental experiment in physics (Maxwell′s demon,
Schr;dinger′s cat, Einstein’s elevator) fantasy provokes construction of
unexpected concepts in other sciences, including a collection of imaginary
constructs that have numerous applications - the imaginary logic of Vasilyev,
the unspeakable communities and imaginary social institutions.
But this goes
far beyond science, of course, - Tolkien′s epic "The Lord of the Rings" for
example, could easily be interpreted as a full-fledged version of a modern
At the attempts to locate science fiction into a tight
conceptual grid it often happens that all the definitions fade and moreover blur
the stereotypical schemes of perception and thought.
Science fiction fans are
well aware of the harm which "science-fiction mass consumption products" do to
Heroes there are substituted with schemes (even super-schemes),
supermen with crystal-clear and empty soul.
With stagy ease these "heroes"
use their abilities in time and space, unlimited even by common
Cinematography did not go far beyond from the publishers in this
sense, making new "supermen" and new "star massacres" rich with dynamics which
are made at a really fantastic technical level.
Therefore, the appearance of
such work as a novel by Andrey Demidov "The Natotevaal Recruits" should become a
significant, and even iconic event not only in the paradigm of fiction, but of
the literary process in general.
Why are we talking about literature in
general in this case?
Because literature is always a non-fictional (and
sometimes distorted) reflection of the present.
But can we say that works of
fiction genre reflect the future?
No, we cannot.
The present is refracted
and repeated in a special form in them.
The future - is just a prism through
which science fiction writer considers his time, his contemporaries. However,
this prism still allows the readers to see features of future in the
That is why we can confidently say that fiction helps a person in a
world, that is changing with