After starting a set of posts on the comparison between artistic and scientific writing, today I’d like to take a break to discuss a related topic that’s been on my mind for a while: science fiction. With all the brainstorming I’ve been doing regarding science and art, I figured now would be the best time to talk about why I love the intersection between the two so much. So on that note, here is a brief list of reasons why I love science fiction. Enjoy!
1) It reconciles my two great passions: science and art.
As I’ve made all too clear by now, both science and art fascinate me immensely. I’m incredibly proud to be able to call myself a scientist and an artist, so their crossover area is basically my playground. It stands to reason, therefore, that science fiction is right up my alley. Combining elements of both worlds, sci-fi stories appeal to my artist side for the creative reimagining of our universe and to my scientist side for the exploration of the potential in real scientific theories. For someone like me who practically lives in this intersection, it doesn’t get much better than that.
2) It stimulates real scientific thinking.
One thing I notice whenever a major sci-fi movie comes out is a surge in discussions – both online and off – about how realistic it is. With films like Gravity and Interstellar comes a rise in articles and social media posts by actual scientists explaining the real workings of physics in outer space and pointing out the common inaccuracies in these movies. The same thing happens (albeit to a lesser degree) with stories about other scientific themes such as time travel, dystopian futures, robot uprisings and zombie apocalypses. And I, for one, love having those discussions with my friends and fellow academics. As a writer, I have nothing against a little artistic license, but as a biologist, I encourage the clarification of facts to make sure the truth isn’t buried too far beneath the fiction. As I like to think of it, ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power.
3) It’s the ultimate “What if?”
I’m sure by now it’s only too obvious that “What if?” is my favorite type of writing-related question. I love imagining what sorts of stories could play out around a single major condition, and no genre can pique that curiosity like science fiction, because changing one detail means altering the entire universe as we know it. What if there’s intelligent life on other planets? What if computers had the intellectual capacity of humans? What if there were a virus that could turn people into zombies? Writing science fiction is like creating infinite parallel worlds with incredible possibilities, all with the power of our minds! How cool is that?
4) It unites people like no other genre can.
Some may not necessarily see this as a good thing, but I’ve always found it interesting how sci-fi has this indomitable power to bring people with similar interests together in a way that no other genre of fiction can. I make no secret of being a so-called nerd and proud of it, so knowing there are tons of people out there who also embrace that eccentric side of themselves is heartwarming. Science fiction offers a unique common ground for those of us who choose to occasionally forget this world and explore the possibilities contained within alternate realities. And if we can share that passion with each other, that makes our love of sci-fi all the more enjoyable.
5) It’s fun to indulge in!
For all the above reasons and more, science fiction is fun, as much to read and watch as to write. I love getting lost in alternate worlds, and sci-fi offers that escape in so many different flavors that I sometimes wonder how I manage to tear myself away from it long enough to face reality again. I could spend hours indulging in these fascinating stories, so if you appreciate science and art like I do, science fiction is definitely the genre for you! Enjoy!
What about you? Why do (or don’t) you like science fiction?