Meme Therapy asks: "Has Science Fiction Had an Impact on your Worldview?"

October 28, 2006
Filed under: News 


Meme Therapy has an interesting post about how Science Fiction impacts a worldview. Two Podiobook speculative fiction authors (and podcasters) answer…

Spherical Tomi by Jack ManganJack Mangan:

“1. Science Fiction has raised me from early childhood with an awareness of universal interconnectivity, a sensitivity to the complex hyper-connectedness of every action and life, even one as trivial as a prehistoric butterfly’s.

SF’s storylines and themes are usually possessed of titanic
tendencies, often featuring forces that may:

A) wipe out/enslave the entire human species
B) destroy the earth/galaxy/universe
C) permanently alter the fabric of time
D) permanently alter the fabric of reality
E) permanently alter the course of humanity’s physical and social evolution
F) you get the point. Something of great importance to our entire way of life is usually in jeopardy. (Yes, I know that you can cite tons of deeply personal, small-scale SF stories. Congratulations. I’ve written a few myself. Not the point. Let’s move on.)

This is where SF informs a globally/univerally conscious ‘Can’t we all get along?’ worldview. If an invasion fleet of giant bugs were to swarm the earth tomorrow, I can guarantee that people would focus a lot less on petty, divisive ideologies.

I strive to view situations and conflicts on a personal scale, try not to cause undue stress, strife, or hardship for those around me, to generally bear in mind that even without killer alien hordes, life is difficult enough. Amidst all of the world’s turmoil and unrest, I have encountered a small number of enlightened souls taking action or simply living to enable a sort of global community of acceptance, cooperation, co-existence, and ultimately, an evolution into something greater than ourselves. A civilization that would benefit from but not be ruled by logic. One that is wise and mature enough to handle the awesome responsibility of our singularity-bound technology (let’s not get hung up on the ‘S’ word). I try to always remain conscious of my place in such a community. If one actually did exist. I don’t know if the Science Fiction portions of my life’s media diet deserve all of the blame for this worldview, but given worlds enough, words enough, and time, I could draw countless direct connections.

Please do not dismiss my worldview as unrealistic Mr. Rogers-esque dogma. I endeavor to entertain no delusions — another characteristic at least partially learned from SF. Our inherited, jumbled human society is most certainly not a cooperative community, worthy of cheery Michael Stipe lyrics. The “street” has consistently found its own uses great and terrible for all techs great and small, including — sadly — jet airliners. This is why the classic, seminal works of Cyberpunk appeal so strongly to me. William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Neal Stephenson, and their contemporaries presented us with the most unflinching, believable, tangible, frightening, impending future yet (sorry, but I find post-apocalyptic road mutants
almost as far-fetched as Wookies). Cyberpunk stories often involved commonfolk protagonists, often ‘high-tech lowlifes’, yet still placed them into scenarios to impact all of human civilzation. This is the stuff that forever changed my ideas of what the future, and also of what fiction — across all genres — at its best, bleakest, and most stylish could be.

2. Science Ficton writers think a lot about the past (history is a great, almost-unlimited resource of uncopyrighted plots, characters, and story arcs). And of course, we also think a lot about the future. When the past and future are studied with factual clarity and without the taint of personal agendas, like shoulder-perched angels, these guides will usually influence a ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ worldview.

3. Science Fiction has encouraged me to be reasonably skeptical of any and all ruling classes and establishments.”

Christiana Ellis:

“It’s hard to know how science fiction has changed my worldview, because I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t a part of my life. Science fiction didn’t change my worldview so much as it helped to form my worldview.

I think that a love of science fiction has made me more forward thinking, less attached to any given ‘now.’ This should not suggest that I have no time for smelling roses in my busy schedule, but rather that I am better able to accept that the rosebush is but a temporary fixture in an ever-changing landscape. When the inevitability of change is not only acknowledged, but embraced, it makes the ephemeral beauty of each moment all the more precious.

Science fiction can also show us our humanity in ways that are impossible for non-genre fiction. Advances in science and technology have been gradually freeing us from many of the more animal necessities, food, shelter, etc. As these things become ever cheaper and easier to obtain, we are able to devote more time to the things that make us more than mere animals. Art, philosophy, all that good stuff.

Science fiction takes that a step further, stripping away all limitations save those of our imaginations. What if free energy existed? What if we were able to change our bodies at will? What if we spread our wings to live among the stars? Will we still have teenage crushes? Sports? Pets? Freed of the limitations imposed by the world around us, we can examine humanity unbound.

Science fiction can present us with a breathtaking view of what our futures might hold. But just as interesting, I think, is what it can show us about who we are today.”

For more cool Jack and Christiana talk check out the recent Deadpan podcast where Jack talks to Christiana HERE.

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