We can address technological change, cultural crisis, and existential risks that look into the future through science fiction films and literature. Science fiction is an art of deep imagination that can be the ultimate form of preparation and result. There have been many instances where it has not only given us tools to draw from when and if these events might take place but also to speculate what the future could look like.
The literature of discovery and change: speculative fiction. While certain books might inspire scores of authors to create something new, science fiction is something that paves a path for the future. It is sometimes hard to distinguish fantasy from science fiction, because as Arthur C Clarke famously stated: “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Humankind has always looked to the stars and dreamed of reaching them, and the story about how we get there and what transpires is an essential part of that dream. Excellent science fiction can motivate and amaze the reader while raising questions that spark the imagination in ways that they have never experienced before.
Science fiction usually deals with worlds that are separate, different, or alternative to our own in terms of technologies, scientific discoveries, or social systems. It then usually looks at the consequences of this ideology or change and how a civilization can deal with it at that time. Because of its broad definition, science fiction can be used to consider topics such as sociology, science, politics, the philosophy of the mind, and as well as any questions about the universe.
There are many reasons that science fiction is considered important; one of them being that it can be used to explore our place in the universe. It also helps one consider fundamental philosophy questions, talk about the nature of reality and the mind while wondering what is logically possible.
Science fiction also inspires people to delve into science itself. For instance, Edward Hubble supplemented strong evidence for the big bang theory and was one of the first people to prove that galaxies exist outside the Milky Way. He was inspired after reading science fiction novels by Jules Verne.
To gain similar inspiration and broaden one’s imagination, below is a list of seven must-read books for science fiction lovers:
- Stranger in a strange land by Robert Heinlein.
One of the first pieces of science fiction to enter the New York Times book review bestseller, Stranger in a strange land’s influence can’t be overstated. This book contains numerous critics of organized religion and politics and freely discusses sexual behavior.
This book centers around a human race on Mars who comes to earth and challenges age-old custom relating to religion, death, money, and sex.
20,000 leagues under the sea by Jules Verne.
Jules Verne’s whole career is rich with works that have inspired generations of authors, and the tale of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus’ underwater adventure has had a significant effect on science, inspiring real scientific advancement.
While the novel contains some elements of Homer’s Odyssey and has a strong political undertone, Captain Nemo is an example of the Renaissance man – cultured, well-read, scientific, and courageous. The concept of going where no man has gone before weaves its way through this novel.
- The War of the Worlds by H.G Wells.
This book takes a seminal look at an invasion of earth by Martians and is a part of this Cool Things Chicago list. This book has been translated into countless languages and has been adopted on the computer games stage, from radio books and a wide range of alien invasion tales in all mediums. It is regarded as one of the touchstones of science fiction and has inspired authors such as John W Cambell, Arthur C Clarke, and Robert a Heinlein to do the same.
- Dangerous Visions by Harlan Ellison.
Each of these 33 short stories was an original when published, and Dangerous visions are acknowledged as the book that restarted the new wave of science fiction.
It is an anthology that honors some of the most fantastic fiction writers such as Philip K Dick, Fritz Lieberman, Damon Knight, Isaac Asimov, etc.
- The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula le Guin.
As one of the most popular science fiction novels that won the Hugo and Nebula award, Ursula le Guin’s role as a major stalwart to science fiction has been established for a long time. The left hand of darkness did not just change science fiction but also changed the concept of feminism and was a large part of the process of change on the concept of what it is to be a man or a woman.
- Neuromancer by William Gibson.
Neuromancer is a novel that takes place in a future cyberpunk setting where technology has advanced, but crime and corruption have as well. The story follows the journey of Case, an out of work hacker, who gets hired by an elusive new employer called Armitage. It then recounts how Case, along with Peter Riviera – an illusionist and thief, and Molly – a mercenary cyborg, participate in a series of data thefts for their new employer.
Neuromancer was the first novel to win all three major science fiction awards – the Philip K Dick Award, the Nebula, and the Hugo. It is considered the grandfather of cyberpunk and is responsible for introducing numerous terms to humanity and, arguably, the idea of the Internet.
- Dune by Frank Herbert.
Frank Herbert’s Dune is possibly one of the most layered works of fiction produced during the 20th century. It examines everything from byzantine political ideologies to the human knack for hero worship. There are two main themes that Dune explores: ecology and religion.
Any fiction lover should read dune as it is an excellent study of writing which innovates and entertains while delving into the depths of human truth.
Science fiction is a genre that depicts how society could function differently in the future. The books mentioned above act as a captivating look into world-building and creating landscapes that we get lost in with fascinating characters to inspire us. If you are encouraged to transition from being a reader to a writer, check out this list of 4 steps to publishing your first book.
Science fiction is an essential and relevant genre that has much to offer to the world, giving meaning to life and enlightening leaders all across the board.