Why The Science Fiction, Fantasy Genre?

December 7, 2017 by admin_name

Why Sci-Fi?
December 2017 ink2quill editorial

I know that many readers and non readers don´t understand the draw that the sci-fi genre has. They see it as a childish phase in Reading that passes as you age. So let me explain to those people what draws me to the sci-fi genre. Firstly, let me start by saying that the official scifi category started popping around the time of the Industrial Revolution, even before then. Some of the greats like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley and many more writers published works before the steam and coal powered machines saw the light of day and entered industry. I believe that we as social beings living in, more or less, organized societies need this genre. I also believe that the oral traditions from the older civilizations in Africa and the mythologies from the ancients civilizations in the middle east and cultures like those of the ancient Greeks had their forms of storytelling that involved the imagination and pushed the boundaries of what was possible all while criticizing human nature and/or the societies of the day. What I am saying is that the sci-fi genre was not created some 200 years ago but has mearly morphed throughout the ages. To the older societies in the world like the ancient Greeks it was their mythology.

So the question still remains. What is so alluring with the scifi genre? The first thing that comes to mind is the imagination of the writers in this genre. There is always an element, no matter how trivial, of something or someone that does not exist in our world as we know it. So for example, a scifi writer might take us to the future or another world or even give us a character that is not terra firma human. The stage of these stories can be quite dazzling and wonderful food for the imagination. I love what Frank Herbert did with his classic Dune or what Margaret Atwood did in the “Handmaid´s Tale” and the list goes on. So imagination is a strong component to the scifi genre and I love that. Keep in mind that I´m not only talking about escapism here. These master world builders we call the scifi greats also show us worlds that are dazzling, terrifying places that are often mirror images of something going on here in reality. They offer a kind of critique or cautionary tale. The way Elizabeth Moon in her novel “Remnant Population” subtly implies a colony that withered away and had to be abandoned is brilliant. I´m sure many colonies from days past have withered and died in the same way.

Another thing to consider is that scifi like other genres has characters with depth that we can care about. Think of the narrator from H.G. Wells´s classic “War Of The Worlds”. He is living through an alien invasion which humanity is losing while trying to get back to his wife and child. The stress of his experiences eventually lead him to a kind of collapse which the reader kind of feels for the narrator but the story still has an incredibly good ending. Another example is the novel I cannot praise enough called “Never Let Me Go” (2nd post on “Never Let Me Go” ) written by Kazuo Ishiguro. The characters in this story are essentially doomed from before they were born but yearn to live some kind of normal life and we the reader can really feel for them. The story takes place in an alternate time of around the 80s and 90s in a society that has taken some pretty nasty shortcuts to solve some of society´s problems. What a really powerful story.

So for all these reasons and more is why I like the scifi genre and I feel it is not a genre that will ever completely go away. It will continue to transform itself within humanity´s pan-cultural experience. I also have to say that I read the classics, biographies, fiction and basically anything with agood story. So while scifi is a wonderful genre don´t miss out on the other genres or you will be cheating yourself. My advice to you is that the classics are always a good place to start.

Written by John Appius Quill

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