English 10 Adv.
The Truthful Imagination
Science fiction doesn’t have to be fantasy. To some critics, the greatest genre of our century is a mixed up conglomeration of impossible dreams and hopes for humanity. But with the genre being so grand, there is always going to be a new frontier. The idea that these stories are impossible is almost lost, when, in the case of many, there is research and knowledge that hasn’t been acquired. In fact, the definition of the term “science fiction” states that. It’s a style based on the creative use of scientific facts, theories, and technologies. It aids the spreading of current ideas, machines, along with the politics of the day. So it’s daft to say that these stories, having been based on our lives and technology, are entirely fantasy.
These stories, though possibly set in the future, use science as a device to expand the plot. “Arguably, the main achievement of the science fiction novel has been in helping people become more aware of the dangers posed”(Stableford, “The Science-Fiction Novel”) by scientific discovery. The genre covers the stories of treacherous corporation owners, military generals, and average citizens are not impossible; we hear them all the time in real life. It covers the bribery, sex, manipulation, and seeming lack of ethics in some areas of the business. These stories, however, are covered up, so much that all news is watered down. Authors are doing the everyday citizen a service by telling stories. Their creating stories on topics not entirely understood shouldn’t be considered fantasy; it is a type of innovation.
Ethics have been an issue covered for many years throughout science fiction. There are always going to be problems with our interactions for as long as we are human. In science fiction, the ethics behind stories push the story forward. Michael Crichton’s technological thrillers told the tales of business leaders who made unethical decisions at the beginning, and the rest of the book was spent solving the problems that those decisions started. The worlds portrayed in his stories are the world we know today, not the future. It would be foolish to cut down these tales, as there are victims of the crimes often described in these stories all over the world.
Along with the very human dealings that happen in science fiction, there are also very human technologies, connecting the thought realm with the physical realm. George Orwell wrote about technologies in 1984 that weren’t entirely created yet, but the parts were there, and we now have what he called telescreens(screens with cameras and microphones). This piece of technology is not impossible, and numerous others shouldn’t be discounted, either. Innovation comes from an original and creative way of thinking to build. All of our current technology comes from the imaginative thinking of someone, so how are these items not considered impossible? Not all technology in science fiction is impossible. Sure, some pieces may be fantasized, but that doesn’t throw the rest of the story into fantasy land.
Misconceptions of science fiction have clouded the genre’s image, though. The idea that all of these stories are alien in origin, the idea that these stories predict the future of mankind, and the idea that there isn’t basis for a time machine. Aliens are not meant to be a defining characteristic, the dealings with them are. Almost like a fable, but a little different, the aliens are used as an easy way to point out flaws in humanity. In a sense, the aliens, and other species for that matter, are a figurative measuring stick, that humans must surpass. And the future is just the grand sandbox for different technologies and ideas meet. This has happened through books like Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, with the intention of enhancing views of military strategy.(Blackmore, “Other Worlds, Other Wars: Science Fiction Reinvents War”)
Time machines, which have shown up as everything from TARDIS in Doctor Who to the Delorean Machine in the Back To The Future series have scientific theories that build them up. The most common is the theory of spacetime, which says that time passes faster as it is pulled closer to a large object that has a large gravitational pull. This property can then be manipulated to bring people back in time, theoretically. The main point is that there is thought that goes into science fiction that doesn’t go into fantasy.
Fantasy, by definition, is a letting loose of impossible and imaginative thinking. As much as science fiction is creative, it is also real. My grandfather said, “In reality, reality is catching up to science fiction.” He’s right about that. The themes are seen in real life, and the stories are real. They aren’t entirely created to get a moral across. The lesson isn’t just at the end of the story, because that isn’t how life works. The whole story is a lesson, showing human flaws, human strengths, human fears, human thoughts, and human demise. Fantasy might show some of these, but it will never bind them through a whole story in the way that science fiction does. Science fiction, just like the science it is based off of, needs to look at the whole picture; learning as it goes, and never stopping until there is nothing left to explain.
Blackmore, Tim. “Other Worlds, Other Wars: Science Fiction Reinvents War.” Critical Insights:
War. Ed. Alex Vernon. Hackensack: Salem, 2012. n. pag. Salem Online. Web. 23 Feb.
Stableford, Brian. “The ScienceFiction Novel.” Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition.
Ed. Carl Rollyson. Hackensack: Salem, 2010. n. pag. Salem Online. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.