Galileo Galilei 1564-1642 created his own science fiction or a fiction of the then accepted science by suggesting the earth revolves around the sun; he opposed the consensus reality of religious authority, which thought otherwise, and in Galilei’s day, it was dangerous to offer such notions. Over 500 years later, we still have people suggesting all sorts of fantastic ideas, except now these ideas, are considered mostly harmless.
Mainstream television shows like Star Trek, Red Dwarf, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Blakes 7, Dr Who, the Marvel films, Star Gate and Star Wars are indeed harmless, or are they?
What passes for science fiction entertainment today, provides its audience with opportunities to explore and examine the human condition in all of its variations both physical and mental states of being. And in the case of Star Trek, to showcase a romantic post-scarcity all-inclusive socialistic utopia without raising any outrage from authorities!
So, what can science fiction do? Just provide entertainment or a framework that questions consensus reality, political society, culture, and values. It can pose reflective questions about how things work and how they might work differently while operating from a disruptive position by questioning assumptions and busting reality bubbles.
Science fiction is more than a constrictive genre description. It encompasses a factually constructed narrative that side-steps consensus reality constraints while exploring the ‘what if’ scenarios. The function of science fiction is to stretch our cultural attitudes and provide imaginative interpretations of society, science and technology. In addition, it tells stories about what we don’t understand, allowing hypothetical, scientific or pseudo-scientific things to exist.
The science-fiction narrative in whatever media form constitutes a sense-making instrument, a way of structuring and understanding existing or possible situations and events. The science-fiction lens can be applied to any genre, concern, proposition, or condition. It is a close cousin to the otherworldly realm of super-naturalism and gothic hauntings, which also like to wander through the scary forest of alternatives.
What was in the 50s used to illustrate the fiction of science is now seen as an all-encompassing reality, especially the sci-fi visions of Aldous Huxley’s 1984 and Brave New World. In the 2020s, we are emersed in a science fiction world that might appear ‘mostly harmless’. But we have sci-fi conspiracies and ideologies steering its populace as a shepherd leads his sheep; that is why science fiction is necessary.
ajjames:my sci-fi August 2022