Why We Need Science Fiction

And Science Fiction needs us too…

Why Science Fiction?

I recently got to visit my sister’s house that she and her family just recently moved into. My jaw dropped at the flawlessness of it — from the outdoor pool to the hidden play area under the stairs to the beautifully tiled bathrooms, the house seemed to be absolutely perfect for my sister’s family.

But something my sister confessed while touring me around caught me by surprise.

She whispered,

“I didn’t want this house at all at first. I told everyone it wasn’t right for us. You know, it obviously needed a lot of changes and I just couldn’t envision it.”

Lucky for my sister, her husband could envision those changes that the house needed. With some remodeling and reworking, the house transformed -as did my sister’s perspective. (I’m happy to say she absolutely adores the house now and apologizes profusely for thinking it was the wrong decision before)

Don’t worry, sis. We’ve all been there.

Unless you’re Elon Musk, you may have had a hard time envisioning what something could look like tomorrow, especially when that something is the actual world we live in today

But what if we had a secret that allowed us to be just like Elon Musk…

What if we had the ability to change every day, every arrangement, and every possible scenario…

What if we could safely and easily remodel this “house” we live in called Earth? All by using the multi-faceted tool of Science Fiction to do several of things…

To Question the Status Quo

…And Question the Social Norms That Come With it…

Science Fiction is not all about aliens, robots, and spaceships (though ok, give me some interesting ones with a good story from time to time and I’ll be happy😂). At it’s core Science Fiction truly represents something much deeper…

Science Fiction has always been a platform to explore social issues in a veiled environment.

From Ender’s Game (child labor/slavery), to Elysium (health care), to SnowPiercer (climate change and social classes), Sci-Fi stories usually have underlying social discussions at the heart of their content.

Even author Suzanne Collins said she conceived of the idea for Hunger Games while flipping through television channels, realizing how similar Reality TV seemed compared to the coverage on the War in Iraq.

Science Fiction is a medium that can provide unique commentary and enlightenment on any number of social issues from war to the environment to race (and more!). It can serve as a catalyst to bring about a change in society that we desperately need.

Take for example, the first interracial kiss on American television which came from Star Trek’s episode Plato’s Stepchildren, which aired in 1968 (during the Civil Rights Movement).

This is a wonderful interview Nichelle Nichol did, discussing the reaction audiences had to that very first interracial kiss…

Science Fiction has brought to light so many issues, even at times when society felt too uncomfortable to really talk about them (or show them!)

Science Fiction is not a stereotype, it’s a medium. And it’s a medium that can produce very powerful things.

To Warn

…And Maybe Spark Up A Conversation In Doing So…

Fan Art I made of one of my favorite new episodes from Black Mirror

Though the show never really leaves you with a nice warm and fuzzy feeling inside of you at the end of all it’s episodes, Black Mirror is a television show that does a fantastic job in warning (and freaking out) audiences about not just the future, but the near future as well…

From the idea of being able to block someone in real life (as we do in our e-mails and on the internet), to capital punishment being a public and theatrical spectacle, to Social Media approval aka “likes” ruling our ability to procure a job/home/life, (just a few of my favorite episodes te he) the concepts in Black Mirror always warn of a tomorrow that could exist if we’re not careful about our today.

The title Black Mirror says it all. The show is a metaphor itself: the dark reflection that we will create for ourselves if we keep looking at things the same way we do…

I think Black Mirror is a great show to watch (uhh just try not to binge-watch it or you may lose all hope for humanity). Even if it doesn’t leave you with the warm fuzzies, Black Mirror will still leave you wanting to talk, discuss, and reflect — which really at the end of the day is what good Science Fiction does…

To Lead By Example

…And Live Long And Prosper In Doing So…

Spock Fan Art I made

Ok I could probably honestly fill this entire article with Star Trek references/quotes but I felt like I needed to lighten the mood just a little after all the Black Mirror stuff…

One of the reasons I love Star Trek so much is because of the positive way it portrays the future. Where a LOT of Science Fiction tends to be a little dystopian by nature, Star Trek is the complete opposite, believing and showing the best in humanity, the best in us, and illustrating the best universe we can create -together!

Star Trek does a great job of leading by example, in a world where replicators can solve world hunger, species can work side by side no matter their differences, and people take jobs not because of the money, but because it is part of human nature to “explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before…” (ok last Star Trek quote I promise)

To Prepare

…Because, Let’s Face It, We May Not Be Alone!

source: http://imgur.com/RRCwL

Maybe extraterrestrials are out there right now, monitoring our Television shows and thinking:

What in the World (or Universe) are they trying to communicate to us?!

Or maybe it’s more like Galaxy Quest and the aliens believe these shows to be our “historical documents”

….Or maybe they’re already just one step away from finding us…

There’s a great line I love from the Sci-Fi movie/book Contact,

“The Universe is pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space”

The fact that we are probably not alone in this universe is both an exhilarating and terrifying concept.

Steven Hawking even said,

“If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans”

Ahh!

But whether it be a scary alien bursting from your chest in space (where no one can hear you scream) Alien 1979, or a friendly alien who just want to be your friend and eat some Resse’s Pieces E.T. 1982, extra-terrestrial life as explored through the lens of Science Fiction actually helps us prepare for the worst and best that could possibly come to our world…

So, if there is life out there somewhere in the universe: who do we want to be when that life finds us?

To Simulate

…And Create In Doing So…

Ever since I saw the scene in The Matrix where Neo downloads Kung Fu into his brain and can suddenly duke it out with Morpheous (in one of the most epic fight scenes of all time) I’ve been absolutely intrigued at the notion of of turning data and simulation into reality.

There’s this wonderful Sci-Fi story I once came across by Eric Schwitzgebel & R. Scott Bakker called Reinstalling Eden and it goes a little something like this…

One day a brilliant man discovers how to construct human consciousness. He creates his very own Adam and Eve and installs a paradise for them on his computer. As his Adam and Eve’s desires/needs grow the man’s hard drive must expand as well…to the point of extreme…Three million people later and the creator is asking himself how can he not do everything possible to protect all the life in this world that he has created?
The creator drains his bank accounts to keep the three million (and growing) alive and happy. One day a virus invades his computer and the man is beyond devastated…he sets aside the last of his savings (that he was going to use to save his kidneys), hands them over to a friend, and dies, asking the friend to carry on his work…
But when this friend takes over the simulation he gets bored and can’t manage it the same way the creator once did…and he realizes he has essentially become The Serpent to this Eden, experimenting with the society and egging them on in different directions. One day the beings call him up, asking for God, and he tells them that God is dead and that now the Snake is running things…They want answers so they hack the Internet and so on, gain more power, and in the end it is this friend who ends up kneeling to them…

Ok…

This story is a little crazy but I just love it (and hope I did it justice with my paraphrasing of it). But it illustrates the beauty and power of a simulation turned reality, the power of an idea turned tangible…

Science Fiction has been inspired by certain ideas and technologies but has also reversely inspired the new ideas and technologies themselves as well. Whether it be Star Trek inspiring the creation of the cell phone or Jules Verne dreaming up the idea of a submarine in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, there’s proof that Fiction can actually become Fact, and that’s powerful stuff!

To Keep The Infinite Alive in Possibility

When I was really little, my grandparents took me to their military base to watch a movie. They figured I would enjoy a film that most other little girls liked at the time called Black Beauty.

Would you like to know what I remember most about that movie?

Honestly? That the movie was about a horse with black hair AND that there was this REALLY cool preview before it for a movie called Stargate…I literally remember almost every second of this trailer…

(I found the trailer online if you want to watch it😂)

I don’t remember if I told anyone that I thought the preview looked interesting or not, but for some reason or another I never saw this movie. Literally years and years went by and I just never watched it. As I got older I think I realized that the movie would never be as good as I could have imagined it to be, especially in the head of a 5-year-old girl who had just experienced her first taste of Sci-Fi… But goodness, did I always remember that trailer 😂

When I heard one of my favorite Sci-Fi geeks, JJ Abrams, do his TED Talk I realized a similar thing had also happened to him as a child…and then it all started making sense

JJ’s Grandpa had bought him something called a mystery box, a magic box literally filled with all sorts of things meant to surprise and delight, but to this day JJ has never opened it…

Why?!

JJ said the box meant more to him in it’s rawest form: as a sheer mystery

“It represents infinite possibility. It represents hope. It represents potential.”

Science Fiction, the eternal mystery box, the remodeling tool of tomorrow, is a simulation machine with a million different outcomes. By it we can create multiple futures at the same time, be they dystopian or utopian or positopian…The box never ends…The box is infinite…Science Fiction is the World’s Mystery Box…

To Escape

Not just alone- but also together!

Dear Sci-Fi Fandoms,

No one gets me like you do. No one makes jokes and references like you do. No one can cosplay like you do (expect maybe at the Anime Expos). No one thinks my nerdiness is awesome like you guys do. There’s something super special about you. I am so grateful that I can escape with you into this wonderful world of Science Fiction.

Sincerely,

Me

Ok this is my love letter to my fellow Star Trek/Doctor Who/Every-Other-Sci-Fi-Fandom-Out-There peoples…But it’s true. I’m so grateful for the Trekkies, for the Whovians…for all of you who create an even deeper world to escape into. I’m so glad a story doesn’t end when the screen goes dark or the last page of a book is read…

It lives on in all of you! In us! In every discussion, in every meme, in every theory or article written…

In short, I love you all…please never change!

May we all continue to create futures that will last forever! Futures that will inspire, warn, and change us all — for the better!

….

Have any other insights into why we need Science Fiction? Be sure to leave them in the comments below!!

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