1st Edition

The Clouds An Experiment in Theory-Fiction

By Stefano Gualeni Copyright 2024
    160 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    On a slow autumn afternoon, an atmospheric physicist working at the Malta Weather Station receives a surprising email from a colleague working in the United Kingdom: something troubling has apparently been detected during one of their research flights. The ensuing meteorological mystery is the starting point for the science fiction novella The Clouds. Alongside the novella, this book features three essays written by the same author that discuss in a more explicit and conventional way three philosophical ideas showcased in The Clouds:

      • the expressive use of fictional games within fictional worlds;
      • the possibility for existential meaning within simulated universes; and
      • the unnatural narratological trope of "unhappening."

    With its unique format, this book is a fresh reflection on the mediatic form of philosophy and a compelling argument for the philosophical value of fiction.

    - Acknowledgments

    The Clouds





    - 5. NIGHT RAIN

    - 6. AUTUMN MOON



    - 9. Afterword by the author: AN EXPERIMENT IN THEORY-FICTION

    Three Essays

    - The Expressive Use of Fictional Games in The Clouds

    - Theodicy and Existential Meaning in Simulated Universes

    - On the Unnatural Narrative Trope of Unhappening



    Stefano Gualeni (Ph.D.) is Professor at the Institute of Digital Games (University of Malta) and Visiting Professor at LCAD (Laguna Beach, California). He is the author of the following monographic books: Virtual Worlds as Philosophical Tools (2015), Virtual Existentialism (2020 – with Daniel Vella), Fictional Games (2023 – with Riccardo Fassone), and The Clouds: An Experiment in Theory-Fiction. Find out more about him and his games at www.gua-le-ni.com.

    How can works of fiction help us ruminate on and answer questions about the nature of time and reality? Can fiction do philosophy? And how do games, specifically as they occur in fiction, contribute to philosophical understanding? Stefano Gualeni sets about answering these questions through demonstration. The Clouds first offers a novella centering on Carla, a Maltese professor of climate science who learns of a strange and unexplainable atmospheric phenomenon two weeks prior. As Carla searches for answers, she starts to question whether larger forces might be at play.

    - Alex Fisher, University of Cambridge, UK

    "Unhappening": what could possibly go wrong? The centrepiece of Stefano Gualeni's The Clouds is a formally inventive science fiction novella dramatising that theme with verve, humour and acute observation. The Clouds is an original book, unafraid to explore the boundaries of genre while providing striking refractions of contemporary debates around fiction and reality, mind and time.

    - Ivan Callus, Professor of English, University of Malta, Malta