The mention of “science fiction” likely conjures images from Star Wars or Star Trek, dystopias ranging from The Hunger Games to The Handmaid’s Tale, or Westworld-ian futuristic societies where technology has altered what it means to be human. But a psychedelic strain of sci-fi, present for decades in the genre, is becoming more pervasive in the mainstream — and promptly refracting the world into an impossible and mind-bending pattern. As psychedelics themselves take center stage in a larger cultural moment in the United States, from the increased popularity of microdosing to the city of Denver decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms, psychedelic science fiction has emerged as a space to discuss, debate, and explore the ecstatic and embrace the ambiguous. The murky definition only helps the pursuit. “While easy to recognize, ‘psychedelic’ remains harder to define,” Mark Cole wrote in a 2016 Clarkesworld article looking at psychedelic science fiction’s roots in the 1960s. Cole ultimately arrives on a vague yet succinct definition: “What defines psychedelic matches the physical effects of hallucinogens.” The advent of visual effects has opened a door for modern psychedelia. The recently concluded television series Legion has prominently featured psychic warfare, ambiguous realities, and surreal time travel, among other forays… Read full this story
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