A wonderful essay on science fiction…

…from (rather to my surprise) the Times Literary Supplement.

A couple of excerpts:

Writers continue to be drawn to the genre because it allows them to find subtle ways of exploring cultural anxiety and desire. As we leave the frosty air of the Cold War behind, innovative modes of science fiction reflect on the nature of religion, the fluidities of sexuality, the dizzying potentialities of computers, the relation between animals and humanity, the precarious coexistence of human weakness and environmental fragility…

Science fiction has always asked frighteningly big questions; and, as some of its early projections become the facts of our everyday lives (organ transplantation, the exploration of space, assisted reproduction, climate change, genetic engineering, the mobile phone), it is developing ways for those questions to be addressed in a more human context.

Permanent link to this article: https://edwardwillett.com/2008/02/a-wonderful-essay-on-science-fiction/


    • Ian H. on February 5, 2008 at 9:57 pm
    • Reply

    To be honest, that’s one of the main reasons I read SF – the big questions get asked in a way that other genres struggle to deal with. Could Fahrenheit 451 been written as a different genre? Would La Planète des Singes have had as great an impact as a different genre? Tough to say.

    As part of the French Immersion curriculum, I teach the fantastic genre (the precursor to science fiction) and the tie-in that books like Shelly’s Frankenstein and short stories like Maupassant’s had with the scientific discoveries of the day.

    SF is the opportunity to look at present trends and extrapolate them to extreme ends (Crichton is a master of this). How will things that are just being glimpsed on the horizon affect and change our society?

    One of the books I have that fascinated me is the collected short stories of Arthur C. Clark which start in 1946 and go to 2000. The technologies he predicted and their effects that we’re now starting to see seem prescient, but SF has been asking the same questions since its inception.

    It’s just too bad that too many readers (adults and youth) dismiss SF as light fluff that isn’t to be taken seriously when there’s so much meat there.

    Sorry for the long comment – didn’t mean to blither on so much…

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