A collection of short stories by David Brin, first published 1994 (my edition is a 1998 reprint), focussing on the "Dogma of Otherness".

Brin's thesis in the Dogma can be somewhat brutally summarised into two points:

  1. "Anthropologists tell us that every culture has its core of central, commonly shared assumptions. ... These are beliefs that each individual in the tribe or community will maintain vigorously, almost like a reflex."
  2. The major dogma of contemporary western culture is reflexive, encouraging us to insist that there must be no dogmas

It's an interesting hypothesis, which Brin suggests encourages us to always be trying to consider all sides of a situation. If you get a group of people together and suggest this to them, and they will all feel obliged to argue with you, which kind of proves it right.

In a later essay "The New Meme" (also included in my edition of Otherness) Brin expands the theme to suggest that five memes are basically battling it out for the future of the planet. Well, he is a science fiction writer, but he has a very interesting point to make, suggesting that this new meme, the "Dogma of Otherness", is going head to head against such ancient alternatives as:

The full essay is well worth a thoughful read. You can find it on the web at:


The collection has much more than that in it - there are some excellent and thought-provoking stories in there as well, including:

"The Giving Plague", "Myth Number 21", "Dr. Pak's Preschool", "Detritus Affected", "Piecework", "NatuLife (R)", "Sshhh ...", "Those Eyes", "Bonding to Genji", "The Warm Space", "Bubbles", "Ambiguity" and "What Continues ... And What Fails ...".

Oth"er*ness, n.

The quality or state of being other or different; alterity; oppositeness.


© Webster 1913.

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