What makes science fiction a particularly valuable genre of fiction for thoughtful engagement?
"Whoa, slow down, Mikel," you might be saying. "Who says Sci-Fi is valuable? It's just make-believe nonsense about spaceships, robots, and time travel." I'm willing to grant that much of Sci-Fi can fall into this category at first glance. Now, even if we are willing to dismiss the majority of Sci-Fi as essentially frivolous, I must point out that the majority of any genre is pretty frivolous. It's just a byproduct of the mass production of such books, movies, graphic novels, and short stories that a lot of what gets pumped out tends to wind up being relatively forgettable. This is because the temptation to generate material with the broadest possible audience appeal means that stories get diluted and reduced to their most generic, most unsophisticated, and most banal manifestation in an attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator. This is why I believe it is important to be intentional about what stories we engage with, as I've written about in the past. This all comes about because of what I call the 80/20 rule of storytelling in the modern age. At least 80 percent of the mass produced content available to us is... well... trash. Yeah, I said it. Trash. However, in that 20 percent that remains there are still available to us an abundance of masterpieces so compelling, beautiful, entertaining, challenging, heartbreaking, and insightful that they remind us of the real value of storytelling and, in fact, make the whole quest for such stories well worth it. This is true whether we are talking about traditional literary novels or genre stories. The gems are real, they're out there, and they're so worth finding.
With is this in mind, in episode two of Speculative Hike, I explore what makes science fiction a uniquely relevant genre when it comes to philosophical and ethical questions. Check it out below.
What do you think? Comment bellow with your thoughts and questions.