Opinion: Science fiction is more than its stereotype

When some people hear the term “science fiction,” they immediately think of the stereotypical Star Trek geek with thick glasses and a nasally voice. The thing is, science fiction can be so much more. It can be an important window into what we want or don’t want in our futures. 

Science fiction can take many forms, from “Ender’s Game” and “Ready Player One” to “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.” Each of these books — which have been adapted into movies — look ahead into a possible future or life in another plane that reveals some truth about the world now. 

Science fiction works are primarily centered on a major change that occurs in a society. The work then goes on to explain the effects of that change on the characters in the story. 

Writers can tell stories  about worlds like ours that have experienced significant change — stories ranging from chilling dystopias to fascinating adventures to hilarious comedies. Other times, they can venture to entirely new planets. It’s limitless.

Science fiction stories can explore technological advancements such as time travel, interdimensional portals or cloning. Readers get to suspend their disbelief and explore one author’s view of how a technology could potentially work. 

This genre provides a blank slate where human nature can be explored. It is the ultimate way to explore hypothetical if-then relationships in an artistic setting. 

One of the most intriguing things about science fiction is that the writer gets to make the rules of the world. Though this is also a trait of fantasy works, it serves both genres well. Whether it is the ethics of the society or the extent of technology, the writer gets to govern what the characters are able to do in their society or environment. Through this trait, Lois Lowry explores a world where people don’t have memories in her book “The Giver.” 

Another excellent trait about science fiction media is it travels well across various media. Sure,  there are science fiction books, but there are also movies. Science fiction stories make excellent TV shows, like the Star Trek series. More to the point, science fiction stories can find success over even more varied forms of media like short stories, video games and audio dramas. The video game series “Fallout” and the podcast audio drama “ars Paradoxica” are wonderful testaments to science fiction’s cross-platform versatility. 

The success of science fiction as a genre points to the human desire to craft and hear stories. It allows authors to relay tales of their deepest fears or wildest dreams and share those works with other people.

Ray Bradbury, in his work “The Martian Chronicles,” said "Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle."


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