Fluid Selfhood, Human and Otherwise

Hindu and Buddhist Themes in Science Fiction


  • Bruce Millen Sullivan Northern Arizona University




Anil Menon, artificial intelligence, Buddhism, Hinduism, Ian McDonald, Kim Stanley Robinson, rebirth, reincarnation, science fiction, Niranjan Sinha, Roger Zelazny


Science fiction has creatively imagined future and alternative worlds in which Hindu and Buddhist concepts figure prominently. Rebirth is a particularly rich idea, manifested both literally and metaphorically in the literary works considered here. The distinctive Indic understandings of human consciousness that underlie the Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions’ conceptions of human nature lend themselves to literary incarnations of artificial intelligence in a variety of ways. Traditional Hindu and Buddhist religious discourses on selfhood and rebirth have been adapted and integrated into the science fiction works discussed in this article in their reflections on human nature and artificial intelligence. However, this fiction also presents science and technology as implicitly religious, as being means to attain traditional religious goals such as immortal life.


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How to Cite

Sullivan, B. M. (2014). Fluid Selfhood, Human and Otherwise: Hindu and Buddhist Themes in Science Fiction. Implicit Religion, 17(4), 489–508. https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.v17i4.489