Fluid selfhood, human and otherwise: Hindu and Buddhist themes in science fiction

Bruce Millen Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-508
Number of pages20
JournalImplicit Religion
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Anil Menon
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism
  • Ian McDonald
  • Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Niranjan Sinha
  • Rebirth
  • Reincarnation
  • Roger Zelazny
  • Science fiction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Fluid selfhood, human and otherwise: Hindu and Buddhist themes in science fiction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this