Science fiction is a powerful form of storytelling because it requires us to think beyond ourselves. What if we came in contact with aliens? What would they look like? How would they communicate? What would their culture be like? What would their planet be like? Is it anything like Earth? Would their moral compass be aligned with ours? Do they believe in God? Are they hostile or kind? And how does all of this affect our understanding of our own lives? Or our understanding of God?
This genre is perfect for action and adventure; addressing social issues; asking religious questions; communicating complicated science; and inspiring audiences. It’s a veritable cornucopia of ideas that can relate to us anything and everything under the sun. It’s all thought provoking—from the close-quartered issues that happen on the ship to the moment the crew sets down on a planet.
Every human problem is put in front of us to think about in a new light: slavery, racism, sexism, socioeconomics, governmental abuse, greed, power, morality, spirituality, religion, justice, love, loss, loneliness and much, much more. To quote Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner,
Real science fiction is as close to an intense discussion of philosophy as you can get while still reading fast-paced, page-turning fiction. And it doesn’t always give us the answers. Sometimes it leaves us to answer those questions ourselves, and that discussion is one readers of all stripes relish.Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner. “Why Everyone Should Read More Science Fiction.” The Huffington Post, 9 Dec. 2013.
Unless your main characters are just constantly shooting at each other, it’s difficult to watch science fiction without being provoked. That is the point of the genre. You can’t just read it or watch it—you must enter into the story and be forced to imagine what you would do. The genre reigns supreme in calling us to open our minds.
And now we must open our minds all the much more as modern technology and investigation has blurred the lines between science fiction and theory.