Science fiction isn’t dying, contrary to what people are saying (about literature, I mean)–it might be losing some ground, but proclaiming it on the verge of death is like saying books themselves are dying, which is another can of worms that people really need to research before babbling doomsday theories about. With that in mind, however, here are my nine reasons why SF is still awesome (not entirely about literature, I mean):
Say what you will about some of the garbage on television, but shows like Battlestar Galactica are prime examples of why SF is very much alive and very much filled with awesome. The constant reruns of other classic shows, such as the multitude of Star Trek series, X-files, and even the original Stargate SG-1 have helped make SF television worth watching–you can get the new and the old in one bite. And don’t forget all the other interesting shows floating around (some good and some not so much)!
Let’s just put aside the arguments about whether or not Star Wars is SF and also just put aside the prequel movies altogether. They don’t count. What does count are movies like Pitch Black, Sunshine, X-men (the first two mostly), Evolution, The Matrix (the first one, not the sequels), Terminator 3, “I, Robot,” The Chronicles of Riddick (say what you will about this one, but it was a good movie), The Island, Spider-Man, Children of Men, V For Vendetta, I Am Legend, Transformers, Iron Man, Wall-E etc. Those are just a few of the titles in the last 10 years that we all most likely remember, or should remember. The movies coming out are still good, some of them playing games with the SF elements (Evolution) and others taking them seriously (Sunshine). I love SF movies and thankfully there are plenty to come in the future that will keep me entertained.
- Cool Ideas
Yes, science fiction is still pumping out the ideas. Just because it’s not making us go “oh my lord, that is truly the most amazing thing ever” doesn’t mean the ideas aren’t there. It’s just somewhat more difficult to surprise us with technology anymore. Spaceships and nanotechnology don’t make us jump up and down like school children like they used to. But the ideas are still there, and they’re getting more complex and more fascinating and dangerous every year. The best part is that some of the ideas we’re seeing might actually come true because they are based on real science. Take nanotechnology, which might actually create super-humans and what not. Wouldn’t that be cool? I think so.
- Scifi Geeks
Okay, so this is one of those things that is great and utterly crap at the same time. First off, scifi geeks can be a little too obsessed (like those Star Trek fans who actually think it’s real). The thing is, all forms of geekery, even literary geekery, have these overly obsessed types. That’s just the way it is. For the most part, thankfully, scifi geeks are some of the best geeks out there. They don’t always get it right (some shows/books/etc. really aren’t as good as they make them out to be), but at least they’re keeping the genre alive by consuming the hell out of science fiction books, television, movies, comics, etc. Without them, the genre wouldn’t be where it is today. At least that’s my opinion!
- Comic Books
Okay, so comics have been around for a hell of a long time, and science fiction comics just as long. But comic book movies haven’t been around quite as long, and good ones haven’t started springing up except in the last 10 years–and most of those have been science fiction or at least close. True, not all of these comic book movies have been all that great (some of them have been downright terrible), but the good ones have, in my opinion, revitalized the movie industry, for the most part, and done wonders for science fiction as a whole. Now we’re seeing a lot of cross over in the opposite direction: science fiction shows being turned into comic books and their stories/characters expanded as a result. True, this type of stuff has been going on for a while, but it seems like it’s more popular these days than in days past. And it doesn’t really matter if it’s an old thing or a new thing: it’s working, it’s cool, and that’s all that matters!
- Non-Genre Authors Driving Focus
The title isn’t clear, primarily because it’s hard to put all of what will be said here into a short title, but it will have to do. Basically, quite a few authors who have received acclaim outside the genre have written books within the genre and embraced them. Michael Chabon, for example, has basically flipped his middle finger off at all those folks that tried to claim he and other science fiction writers were writing crap. We need more folks like him out there, for sure, but thankfully the genre as a whole has been grabbing a lot of non-genre attention as of late. And, it drives genre readers to work outside of their comfort zone. That’s a good thing!
- Space Opera
It’s been around for a long time, I know, but the subgenre has really blossomed lately (at least that’s what I see). Whether or not it is “new” as the whole “New Space Opera” title suggests, space opera is still kicking. I love me some space battles and interstellar civilizations, even when it’s all blended together in a dark cup (if that makes any sense). Of course, I’ve always loved space opera, so the supposed revitalization of the genre brings a smile to my face. Give me some Tobias Buckell and John Scalzi any day of the week! And, if you’re feeling friendly, toss some Charles Stross and Alastair Reynolds in there too!
- Science Fiction Becoming Reality
We may not have nanotech-augmented super humans who can heal on command and survive the vacuum of space, or interstellar transports that can take you anywhere in the galaxy in about six seconds, but things that used to be science fiction are rapidly becoming things of the present. At the very least, scientists and inventors are at least influenced by the amazing technologies created by science fiction writers. We have personal computers, hybrid cars, cell phones, miniature storage devices (USB sticks and the like), the Large Hadron Collider, and enriched/processed food. Okay, so that last one might not be such a great thing, but so be it. But this all shouldn’t be a surprise. Science fiction has been thrusting itself into everyday life for a long time and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up. Technology, I’m told, advances at an exponential rate.
- Critical Exposure
Maybe I’m the only one that thinks it’s a relatively new thing, but in the last decade or so it seems like science fiction has been gaining significant ground in academic circles. More classes are being offered on the subject and more professors are including science fiction novels in their course curriculum, where relevant. The classics are getting most of the attention–I’ve seen Neuromancer by William Gibson, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and Dracula by Bram Stoker more than any others–but inevitably more novels will show up more regularly. I think it’s fantastic that more universities are seeing the value in science fiction as a literary form. Don’t you?
- I Like It
Okay, so this last item on this list might not matter to you, but it matters to me. The reason? If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have a list of ten reasons why it’s awesome on my blog. For example, I won’t have a similar list about romance novels or transatlantic travel books. So there you go…
Well, there you have it! What makes science fiction (still) awesome for you?