Amsterdam and Golden Age Finance through the Eyes of a Sci-Fi Author

Co-Authored with, and presented by, Dr. Joyce Goggin

Imagining Amsterdam: Visions and Revisions. University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, NL, 2009.


Based on my fascination with Neal Stephenson's massive Baroque Cycle trilogy, this paper aimed to explore whether the gaze of a science-fiction author is unique when turned on a historical subject, namely, golden-age Amsterdam.

After a brief exploration of what defines science-fiction (Science Fiction by Adam Roberts offers an accessible introduction), the paper presented a comparative analysis of the sections of the Baroque Cycle with other works of recent historical fiction set in the same era and location, like The Girl with the Pearl Earring and Tulip Fever. Ultimately, I argued that through a combination of audience expectations and predilections of authors dominantly working in particular genres, presentations of similar objects, or cities, display considerable variation in tone across genres.

I am always curious about exploring definitions of genres and the unique approaches afforded by their conventions. This paper allowed me to delve deeper into understanding science-fiction, a genre I love deeply, and explore what makes it great.