That is all.
Ok, I guess you probably want something to back up that statement. Understandable.
So why is it the best?
Well first lets look at what science fiction is.
When you mention science fiction there is often a preconception (or misconception).
Quite often the initial things that come to mind are Star Trek and Star Wars. And possibly the endless debate as to which is the best. I might offend people here but my vote would probably be Star Wars (excluding those atrocious prequels, somehow better CG means you don’t have to write good dialogue, characters or plot) but I do still love my Star Trek (the Captain Kirk flying drop kick and Patrick Stewart’s sexy bald head, oh yeah, you better “make it so” 🙂 ).
But to see science fiction solely as people flying through space in tin cans and fighting (or sleeping with) aliens is a massive over-simplification. Science fiction is so much more than that (and sometimes less).
So what is science fiction if not space cowboys and Jedi? Spaceships and hyper-drives? Warp speed and the
United Nations United Federation of Planets?
Let’s look at what else can be classified as sci-fi.
How about 1984? There isn’t a single spaceship or anyone performing telekinesis. Yet it’s still classified as sci-fi… How is that possible?
The best science fiction is not about the future at all, it’s about the times in which it is written.
It’s a statement about where we are going as a society. Or values, beliefs, our zeitgeist (the spirit of the age).
Look at 1984. It’s called 1984 because it’s about 1948, the year it was written. It’s about where George Orwell believed society might be heading at that time. It was a warning.
Take Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (one of my favourite books).
The concepts are profound; the pre-ordained social status, the manipulation of consumer tendencies, the dependance on prescription drugs, the “Savage Reservations,” the propaganda, brainwashing, and the sole focus on individual and fleeting pleasures; yet some view it as the ideal society. It makes a great statement on the forces driving the world today. And the amazing thing is that despite being written in 1932, it is still relevant today (if not more so).
What good (and great) science fiction does is make us mindful of how our actions today affect the world of tomorrow. How the world is always changing (yet some things never change).
Take Frank Herbert’s Dune (another favourite). Now contrast it to the world today, say for instance, resource wars in the middle east perhaps. Western thirst for oil (spice) and the imperialism that seems to go with it. The delicate balance of political and corporate interests. Not to mention the concepts of human potential.
Science fiction doesn’t require spaceships or aliens, it doesn’t have to be about the far future. In fact it can be a world very much like today. It’s an all encompassing kind of fiction. And the great thing is that there are no restrictions (or almost none).
But science fiction isn’t just about politics either. It can be about what it means to be human.
For instance, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, which was adapted into the movie Blade Runner. Or I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (don’t confuse this with the movie of the same name which has next to no similarities to the book, apart from being about robots). The ideas about robots/androids/synthetics/etc. are used to show what makes a human… well human. What separates us from machines, what makes us unique and special (perhaps divine).
Or how about The Matrix? (probably 3 of the greatest movies ever made, and The Animatrix is amazing as well) I mean on the surface it looks like a kick-ass action movie about fighting robots and “the man”, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. The depth of these movies is astonishing. It’s a massive commentary on philosophy, reality, spirituality, meta-physics, thought-control, western-capitalist ideology, prophecy, and the human condition.
Oh and did I mention kick-ass fight scenes with robots and people dodging bullets! So Sweet!
There are so many different kinds of sci-fi. I love them all, because each kind does something different.
- The kind with Robots.
What makes us human? Can we create something capable of consciousness? And when does it stop being a machine and start being human? What will we do with the robots?
- The kind with Aliens.
What does a creature born on Jupiter look like? It’s the science aspect. Biology, chemistry and physics. What would they want from us? Or us from them?
- The kind with New Technology.
What are we capable of? And how would new technology affect our lifestyles and day to day interactions? Just think of smart phones or the internet. What would we do with these new inventions?
- The Dystopian kind.
What’s the difference between the ideal society and complete control of people’s thoughts and actions? Is there one?
- The kind with Interstellar Travel.
What does a Super Nova feel like? What kind of other planets could there be? What will we do when we get there?
- The kind with Time Travel.
What is time? Why does it only flow in one direction? Does it? What if we could change the past? What would happen to the present if we did? Or the future? (What time is it?)
- The kind with Mutants.
What happens when some humans gain super-powers? What do they do with them? How do regular people react? Love them as heroes or despise them as villains?
- The kind with Societal Collapse.
What happens to us after a nuclear holocaust? How do we get by? What’s important to us when there’s no more TV? (Damn nuclear winter! I never saw who won America’s Next Top Model!)
So what makes science fiction so great?
It’s about provoking thought.
It’s about getting us to question the norm. The things we think we know. The things we take for granted. Our perceptions. Our preconception and assumptions.
Just because the world looks this way now doesn’t mean it always has or will be this way.
Change. It’s always happening. Always and all ways.
I love sci-fi so much that I’ve started writing some. I’m in the midst of a short story which I’m really excited about. There’s still a fair bit of work yet to do, but when it’s done I’ll be sure to share it with you 🙂
I have been very fortunate with starting this blog. It has exposed me to some amazing and inspirational writers. On a variety of subjects.
Including, but not limited to, Science Fiction 🙂
I have recently come across an excellent blog, Beyond the Dream, which has introduced the term Non-Duality to me. Which I find aligns closely with my own beliefs on human interconnectedness. I’m surprised that I’ve never heard the term before. Lear something new everyday 🙂
Rory, the blog’s author, is about to have his own science fiction novel published, Eladria.
It sounds amazing and I’m very excited to check it out.
He has a prelude short story available for download, check it out if you’re a fan of the genre (which by now you should be. How can you argue with such a concise and eloquent presentation of Science Fiction’s virtues 🙂 )
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion,
Science Fiction is the Greatest Genre, Ever.
Thanks for reading.
from an aspiring Futurist.
“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.” – Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing
“Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.” – Philip K. Dick
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” – Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy