As i mentioned in my Book Review of The Lifecycle of Software Object, I am not a person who enjoys reading science fiction most of the time. Unless it’s a dystopian sci-fi novel I have never had the motivation to read one.
But recently i have thought about the genre of science fiction a lot, and I have come to the conclusion that I actually do like specific incarnations of sci-fi. Science fiction as a genre can be the setting for almost every single other genre, and they each have their own pros and cons. Each type of sci-fi can be used to discuss a specific type of problem.
The Sci-fi setting is often used as a way to portray the problems and dilemmas we face in our own world and society, but put them far enough away from ourselves that we are able to look at them more objectively. You can view Science Fiction literature as a fictionalized case-study, that the reader can use to get examples of the conflicts seen in our own world, but in a fictionalized version so that the reader has an easier time understanding it.
Some of my favourite subsets of Science Fiction are Dystopian sci-fi and futuristic sci-fi.
Dystopian Science Fiction
In dystopian sci-fi the problem often discussed are political problems. Dystopian stories usually feature a corrupt government, and a person or band who rebels against it. The corrupt government will often mirror some of the things happening in the political climate that the story was written in.
In some cases though, it is based more in an ideological idea, and not so much in actual governments. A good example of this is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Suzanne Collins was inspired to write the dystopian novels when she was channel surfing and it was going between reality tv and coverage of the Iraq war. The two blurred together, and that was how she came up with the idea of teenagers fighting to death on live television. She also wrote the story to teach children about the importance of war, and especially the impact that war has on families. On a more historical note she was also inspired by the greek myth of Theseus and the minotaur, which tells the story of how Athens periodically had to send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete where they were thrown into the labyrinth and devoured by the minotaur.
The Hunger Games is a classic example of a dystopian novel telling the readers about current political problems and the political climate, without ever mentioning anything current.
Some other dystopian novels that does that as well:
- The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
When Alexandra Bracken wrote The Darkest Minds she was inspired by her own experiences as a high school freshman right after 9/11 happened, she had seen what fear could do to people, and just how much they were willing to sacrifice for a little bit safety.
“Maybe nothing will ever change for us,” he said. “But don’t you want to be around just in case it does?”
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
One of the first things Veronica Roth came up with when she was writing Divergent, was the dauntless faction, which is a group of people known for being brave. She was inspired by her own education in psychology and phobias, so she became interested in the idea of a group of people who combatted these phobias. It can also be said about Divergent that it carries a lot of meaning about what it means to be different, as the characters, who do not fit into one of the boxes of the government, are killed.
He told me once to be brave, and though I have stood still while knives spun toward my face and jumped off a roof, I never thought I would need bravery in the small moments of my life. I do.
Futuristic Science Fiction
Futuristic Sci-fi on the other hand is often used to illustrate the problems that come with the technological advances that are currently happening. It can be used to explain the ethical dilemmas that technology leaves us with. It forces us to question advances that have not yet happened, while also making the reader unaware of it the majority of the time.
So in conclusion, science fiction is a genre that is greatly used to illustrate problems that we face today without making the reader aware that they are reading about current situations. And as with most other genres, specific subgenres fit specific problems better.