First Advisor

Dr. George G. Landaris

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Science


Systems Science




Technology assessment, Environmental impact analysis, Science fiction



Physical Description

3, x, 320 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


This dissertation proposes the use of fiction as models to enhance the process of impact assessment (IA) and to improve the quality of IA reports. It demonstrates that works of extrapolative fiction (EF), a subset of science fiction, raise issues and clarify concerns not currently included in the IA process, suggesting the potential for improving the relevance of IA results for decisionmakers. The dissertation also demonstrates that EF stories can enhance the presentation of IA results, making those results more readable. Through literature review and content analysis, the current IA process is shown to lead to results lacking in specific content areas (e.g., effects on emotional well-being and community cohesiveness) necessary for their utility to decisionmakers. The body of literature here called extrapolative fiction is then shown to include many content areas missing in existing assessments. Two alternatives for an IA process that could incorporate extrapolative fiction are presented and discussed by means of examples. The first includes existing EF stories as a part of or an appendage to an IA report. The example is a preliminary combining of published EF stories with an IA report concerning life-extending technologies. The second includes the use of existing EF stories in the assessment process through inclusion of an EF-oriented reader on the IA team. The example is a case description of an IA process regarding the commercialization of guayule as a source of natural rubber, a process in which the author incorporated EF methods. Severa other results emerged from this research: (a) an initial statement of objectives for a unified field of impact assessment (recently emerging as an amalgamation of technology assessment, environmental impact statements and social impact assessment); (b) a working definition for an emerging subgenre of science fiction here called extrapolative fiction; (c) a topical bibliography of some hundred EF stories. These results extend the current understanding of the field of impact assessment and the emerging genre of extrapolative fiction and should be useful to both the impact assessment and science fiction criticism communities.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


Portland State University. Systems Science Ph. D. Program.

Persistent Identifier