C4P: Jyrki Korpua - Machines of Chaos – The Shadows and the Reapers as representations of evil.



Luna's third Call for Papers, A Shadow Within: Evil in Fantasy and Science Fiction will be released on Wednesday the 14th of August, at Dublin Worldcon. Explore the 21 brilliant papers you will find in the book.

Today, we would like to introduce you to Jyrki Korpua (Finland). PHD in Literary studies and Lecturer. Researcher.

Presenting the paper: Machines of Chaos – The Shadows and the Reapers as representations of evil in the television series Babylon 5 and the Mass Effect game series.

Jirky says:

"This article focuses on how evil is represented in two science fiction cult favorites: the Babylon 5 television series and the Mass Effect game series. In both cases, the focusses are monstrous ancient enemies: The Shadows, in Babylon 5, and the Reapers, in Mass Effect. The enemies, incomprehensible in appearance and action, come from outside to destroy the civil world built by humans and other humanoid races. Both the Shadows and the Reapers wage war, destroying entire species and planets, savouring chaos, destruction and mass murder. All of this is seemingly enough for us, as readers and gamers, to label them as evil.

In the introduction of this article, I will illuminate what is meant by the term “Evil”. Also, previous studies of this concept will be addressed. I will then move onto further analysis of the subject. There, at first, I focus on the similarities between the series in relation to this topic. Secondly, I discuss how both series portray evil, and how the Shadows in Babylon 5 and the Reapers in Mass Effect are both representative of chaos and “forced evolution” as their philosophy and modus operandi. I will also focus on the strategy that both races use to execute their philosophy. Lastly, considering their own particular philosophies and strategies, I will examine whether these mythical science fiction races really should be considered evil. In the series, they are both merely acting according to their own laws, functions, and codes. This once more gives rise to philosophical and the theological question, “What is evil?”. What part does morality and a humane approach play therein? Is evil just the absence of good? Or is it even a physical, spiritual, and/or moral emptiness? Is evil ‒in the context of these series‒ all in the eye of beholder?"

PhD Jyrki Korpua is a reseacher of literature and cultural studies. Since 2005, Korpua has acted as lecturer and researcher of literature in the University of Oulu, as well as a part-time lecturer in the University of Turku (2014‒2015). During the past years, he has presented his research in national and international conferences and held dozens of lectures and lecture series on literature and film studies: ”The Bible and literature”, ”Kalevala and fantasy”, ”Utopias and dystopias”, ”History of comics”, ”History of fantasy”, ”The Fiction or J. R. R. Tolkien”, among others.


In 2014‒2015 Korpua acted as Chair of the Board in The Finnish Society for Cultural Studies and since 2014 as a Chair of Board in The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research. He is also active in the boards of the writers’ society Huutomerkki ry, the cultural society Kirjan Ystävät – Amici Librorum and Oulu Comics Society.


Link to Korpua’s scholarly publications in University of Oulu’s website.

A Shadow Within: Evil in Fantasy and Science Fiction

is now in pre-order!

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