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The Importance of Science Fiction

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amanda heins

on 20 October 2014

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Transcript of The Importance of Science Fiction

Fiction that deals with imagined futures and the impact of scientific advances, social changes, and environmental changes.

It often involves other planets, space, and time travel.
Good Science fiction looks at the world we know and asks: “What happens if?”
What happens if we create artificial intelligence?
What happens if we destroy the environment?
What happens if we slowly give up our agency?
Much of science fiction is reacting to what the writers see as pressing issues of that time.

Science fiction picks up as a genre around the same time as the Cold War and Space Race.
Future Worlds
The Importance of Science Fiction
Wall-E -> a future of pollution and lack of care for the Earth
Jurassic Park -> cloning and a modern "Frankenstein"
Planet of the Apes -> dangers of wiping ourselves off the map
"By proposing possible visions of the future, science fiction asks questions of us--of humanity, of Earth, of individuals--that we wouldn't ordinarily ask ourselves. Who are we? Where are we going? Does what we do today matter? Real science fiction is as close to an intense discussion of philosophy as you can get while still reading fast-paced, page-turning fiction. And it doesn't always give us the answers. Sometimes it leaves us to answer those questions ourselves, and that discussion is one readers of all stripes relish." -Huffington Post
The ability of an individual or group to make their own choices
Cold War
The United States and Russia at odds.
Fear of communism in the United States.
Desire to wipe out communism in the US created a witch hunt.
Artists, writers, journalists especially at risk -> created an environment hostile to intellectual freedom.
Space Race
Competition between Russia and the US to be the top in space flight and technology.
Driven by fears of national security.
Also driven by desire to be first in a new and growing field.
Side benefits: increased emphasis on education and scientific research, new technologies birthed
Presents a world where the author's ideal is presented to us as a reality.
Tends to focus on presenting a world that lacks a current social evil or state.
Presents a future where a current social evil or state is taken to an extreme to show a possible future of continuing down this path.
1984 -> government takes over individual decision-making

Brave New World -> when
people give up their desire to make choices for a life of pleasure
Common Themes
Repetition of History
Alternate History
Morality in Science
Body Modification
Dangers of Sameness
Dangers of Pleasure
Fear as a Tool
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