🤖: Beep beep boop boop.
I really didn’t know how to open this post, so I hope robot noises are enough to capture you attention 😬.
Science fiction is my favorite literary genre.
Now, I don’t think any genre is better than another, but I do think you can certainly like one better. In this case, I like science fiction better than all the other genres.
Is it because I’m naturally fascinated by science?
How does my interest in the study crossover to my love for its companion fiction?
Do robots actually make beeping noises?
. . .
Huh. Learn something new.
I tried my best to put my feelings into words and came up with this incomplete list of reasons I love sci-fi. Maybe some of you can relate 💃:
video version of this blog post!
𝟷. sᴄɪᴇɴᴄᴇ ғɪᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ʜᴀs ʙᴀsɪs ɪɴ ʀᴇᴀʟɪᴛʏ.
With science as its foundation, any work of science fiction even though “made up” possesses an innate degree of plausibility.
Take the book Station Eleven, for example. In the story, 98% of the world falls victim to a deadly mutation of the seasonal flu virus which rapidly spread via humanity’s ever-present interconnections. As someone in the medical field, the budding evolution of super-bugs and viruses guides most of my preventive practices. So when a novel like Station Eleven uses a threat that’s a ~ matter of science ~ in their plot, I’m easily captivated by the terrifyingly conceivable outcomes the author imagines.
Even my favorite fantasy book, The Final Empire, follows a sort of science. The magic system is elemental and characters are gifted their powers similar to how superheroes obtain theirs in industrial, freak accidents or mutants through evolution. It’s easier to place the characters in our world and sure as heck more believable than fire-breathing dragons. (Please don’t misread that line as a jab at the over-sized lizards—I do love a good dragon story).
I think I’m just rambling now.
What I’m trying to say is although I sometimes read to escape the world I’m in, I still crave a connection to the new world and characters an author crafts—and to me, there’s no genre that balances reality with imagination quite like science fiction.
𝟸. sᴄɪᴇɴᴄᴇ ғɪᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ᴛᴀᴄᴋʟᴇs ᴄᴜʀʀᴇɴᴛ ᴀɴᴅ ᴘᴏᴛᴇɴᴛɪᴀʟ ɪssᴜᴇs.
Super-bugs. Climate change. Malicious AI.
These are all ~ matters of science ~ sci-fi authors are able to speculate about, present unrealized implications of, and then create reasonable a n d far-fetched solutions to. Even though sci-fi books may not give us the answers we want or need, there is solace in knowing someone’s thinking and worrying about these scientific quandaries.
𝟹. sᴄɪᴇɴᴄᴇ ғɪᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ɪɴsᴘɪʀᴇs ɴᴇᴡ ᴛᴇᴄʜɴᴏʟᴏɢʏ.
[Enter stage right: Neil Gaiman]
Once upon a time, Neil Gaiman asserted that everything around you was once an idea. One of the stories he accompanied with the assertion was about a Chinese government official he once met. The official admitted that they were trying to encourage their public to read, specifically science fiction books, after meeting top American engineers. The meetings had revealed that all the American engineers read science fiction growing up, leading the Chinese government to correlate this practice to American technological advancements—and the Chinese’ lack of. Apparently, Chinese citizens were previously discouraged from reading sci-fi. But soon after the finding, the government instituted their first ever, state-sponsored science fiction convention 🤯.
[Exit stage left: Neil Gaiman]
…everything around you was once an idea.
Robots, self driving cars, 3D printers—all of these innovations were first devised in sci-fi novels. Sure, literacy and ideas can be learned through any genre, but what other make-believe genre drives civilization forward like science fiction?
𝟺. sᴄɪᴇɴᴄᴇ ғɪᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ɪs ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴇsᴛ sᴄɪᴇɴᴄᴇ ᴛᴇᴀᴄʜᴇʀ.
Whenever something goes wrong in my life, I like to say maybe it worked out better in another timeline 😂. If it weren’t for sci-fi books, I wouldn’t know that a whole branch of science like quantum mechanics exists, and the aforementioned phrase wouldn’t be in my lexicon. Moreover, sci-fi novels like Dark Matter and Heir Apparent introduced me to subject matter I never had the chance to learn about in science classes growing up or in my medical science classes in college. (Schrödinger’s cat and virtual reality never came up in anatomy and physiology lectures.)
Science fiction is the Ms. Frizzle I always wanted, but never got 😢.
𝟻. sᴄɪᴇɴᴄᴇ ғɪᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ᴘᴜᴛs ᴛʜɪɴɢs ɪɴᴛᴏ ᴘᴇʀsᴘᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ.
Stories set in space make me feel tiny. Stories from an alien’s point of view make everything I do seem silly. What those stories—all sci-fi stories—have in common is that they make me feel like there’s so much more to be concerned with than me. And that’s a relief.
I love science fiction because it makes sense to me.
Although sci-fi may bring to light troubling ideas, it also inspires solutions and innovations. On one hand, you can let its uncertainty worry you, but on the other, it can show you that there’s much more at stake than you. In the end, there’s truth packed in the web of lies sci-fi authors weave to create their stories, and ~ matters of science ~ have a way of imprinting their contents into my mind forever 🍃.