Monday, June 8, 2009

In Defense of the Sci-Fi genre

I love reading science fiction/fantasy. I find it a genre of ideas, and I love to see how they take basic science and build on it to come up with really interesting future scenarios in their stories. I think it is a misunderstood genre in a lot of ways. I think those folks who say they don't like it are thinking of some pretty awful stuff they may have stumbled across somewhere along the way and they think that this drek represents the whole genre.

I read a really terrific column by Ben Bova on called Maybe Leaders Should Read More Science Fiction. I agree with everything Ben says in the column, but in particular these two paragraphs stood out:

"In the past, science-fiction writers have written about computers, robots, space flight, nuclear power, organ transplants, prosthetic limbs, brain stimulators, climate change, overpopulation and a myriad of other ideas and possibilities — usually several decades before they became actualities.

If our political leaders had been reading science fiction, we might have been spared the Cold War, the energy crises, the failures of public education and many of the other problems that now seem intractable because we were not prepared to deal with them when they arose."

I wish I could get our local book club to read more of this genre, but they don't seem too interested in it. Maybe I should share with them Ben's closing paragraph:

"Science fiction, at its best, is an experimental laboratory where you can test new ideas to see how they might affect people and whole societies. To my mind, it should be required reading for everyone."

I agree.

Note: Naples resident Ben Bova is the author of 120 books, including “The Immortality Factor,” a novel about stem-cell research. Bova’s Web site address is

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