Limits On Science Fiction 12 July, 2023 – Posted in: Articles, Science Fiction – Tags: , ,

In the early days of science fiction imagination seemed boundless. No idea was too new, too strange, or too unorthodox. Writers, editors, and readers were ready to believe in any number of possiblities for the future. But what of today? What are the limits on science fiction today? I say there are still no limits, only that we are restricting our imaginations.

As readers we have lost a bit of the naïvity that allows science fiction to reveal its magic. We find ourselves bombarded with fantastic images created on computers that offer glimpses into possible futures. And through this constant assault on our senses we become desensitised to them. They reduce our ability to believe that the improbable could, in fact, be possible.

Too often now do we hear that the things we read in science fiction books or see in films are impossible. When did we become so defeatist? There was a time when all futures were not only possible, but ready to happen at any moment. We expected better from our future and science fiction allowed us to explore those possibilities with ease.

Now, when we read about or see the fantastic, we take a pessimistic look at futures we will never achieve. Instead of inspiring, we end up demoralized by these futures. This has never been the intent of science fiction.

They say the golden age of science fiction is 13, but if we allow ourselves the golden age can continue indefinitely. We need to take a step back and see the propaganda we’re subjected to as just that, propaganda. Then we can let it go. We can regain the feeling of awe and wonder at what the future could hold for us. To find ways to work forward instead of looking backwards for answers.

When I read science fiction I don’t focus on the problems the characters have. Instead, I’m thrilled at the ideas of the problems they have overcome to reach their futures. There is an historic struggle to most science fiction stories that is rarely explored. But reading between the lines we know that the characters must have faced, and overcome, problems very similar to the ones we face today.

I still feel there are no limits on science fiction today. Either on what it can reach for or what it can make us feel. That is what draws me to science fiction and what draws many readers. The limitless potential not only in the future, but in ourselves.

Limits on science fiction? No.

Boy reading The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.

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