Curiously Creative: The power of science fiction |

Curiously Creative: The power of science fiction

Mackenzie Hicks

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been big on science fiction in any form. Sure, I love the stars and space when it’s in photos or the news followed by the letters N-A-S-A, but science fiction — I could take it or leave it.

Recently, for a class, I had to read four science fiction novels. After slogging through three slow-moving, jargon-filled books, the last one finally pulled me in. It also reminded me of an interesting lesson I learned in my first semester: Science fiction has always been on the frontlines of cultural change since it popped into existence on bookshelves.

It’s called out sexism, racism, misogyny and more. It’s questioned the status quo and forced people to reexamine their perspectives on things. It’s given dire warnings about future possibilities while also providing hope for those who feel on the outside of society. The genre also inspired the creation of technology, such as the taser and even the atom bomb. And, of course, anyone with a social media account cannot deny the cultural impact of George Orwell’s “1984.” Science fiction has changed the world in amazing ways.

Now, I know what you’re going to say: How can a story about aliens and faraway planets teach us anything about our own culture or future?

Well, allow me to explain.

Science fiction pulls readers into different versions of the ever-evolving future. Yes, those creatives imagine planets and aliens beyond our wildest imaginations, but most of these new places, though jarringly different from our own lives at first, draw parallels and make us ask, “What if?” This is the catalyst for all change.

I watched a video in April called “Sci-fi for social change,” and one of the authors who was interviewed made a profound statement: “All organizers, change makers are science fiction writers because they are always imagining a different, better world.”

Let that sink in for a moment: Anyone who has a passion they want to use to shape the world is a creator of science fiction, because they are constantly pushing the status quo to ask, “What if?”

What if we quit denying science and created an actual solution to the climate crisis? What if we accepted everyone as they are and not what we think they should be? What if we united and worked together to solve problems, regardless of political affiliation? Can you imagine what our world could be?

It would probably be something out of a science fiction novel.

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