- Start date: 1 January 2014
- End date: 31 December 2020
- Funder: Internally funded
- Primary investigator: Professor Ingo Cornils
'Beyond Tomorrow. German Science Fiction and Utopian Thought in the 20th and 21st Century', explores the question of how humanity can match its technological progress with an appropriate social, ethical and moral progress. In an era in which scientific and technological advances have revolutionised our capabilities to radically alter ourselves and the physical world around us, literary responses have become increasingly dystopian in outlook. They reflect the fears and misgivings about: increasingly porous boundaries (global communication network, virtual realities, national identities, cosmetic surgery); conceptual paradigm shifts (artificial intelligence, quantum physics, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, gender reassignment); and persistent global challenges (climate change, food production and war/terrorism), all of which require a new form of consciousness (cf. Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus).
Since the turn of the millennium, German writers have increasingly engaged with the moral and ethical dilemmas created by these challenges. Building on the rich tradition of German Science Fiction from Kurd Lasswitz (1848-1910) to Carl Amery (1922-2005), they explore in thoughtful and accessible mind-experiments the dangers and limits of our new capabilities, and also the opportunities should we succeed in harnessing the potential inherent in these paradigm changes. Beneath their dystopian guise, these writers attempt Zukunftsbewältigung: valuable strategies that may help us cope with an uncertain but also unwritten future.