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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Will Science Fiction Die?

The short answer is yes. But I'm not here to give a short answer. Instead, I intend to try to explain why science fiction will find itself in a terrible bind at some point in the future. The sad part of this is that many of us may watch science fiction die, or perhaps our children will witness that, and for those of us who are in love with the genre it will come as a crushing blow.
The sad truth is that science fiction cannot survive forever as it sits right now. There may come an opportunity to change directions, but when that happens it ceases to be science fiction and becomes something else. Science fiction is not dead now, and isn't dying now, and issue I've already addressed. The fact of the matter is, science fiction is surprisingly fascinating right now not because it's necessarily predicting unimaginably beautiful futures, like in the Golden Age, but more or less taking the world as we know it and bending it to give a new perspective on our species and the complex issues that plague us. But that cannot hold forever. It's disturbing, considering how science fiction has come from nothing to what it is today. It started as novels of truly imaginative appeal, an appeal that found itself attacked by academics everywhere. Science fiction has struggled and fought tooth and nail to get where it is today and it still has one good fight left in it--the fight that will bring it permanently into the literary canon and ultimately into the academic world.
There will, unfortunately, come a time when science fiction will not have a future to talk about. Once we, as a species, figure out how to go to the stars, begin creating vast interstellar empires, and meet aliens, all the stories that once addressed those subjects will either become fascinating reality, or forgotten relics, much as it seems the Golden Age of science fiction has. Science fiction writers will not longer be writers of science fiction, but simply writers of fiction. It's unavoidable. This truth must be realized by all of us. While the literary academia fights hard to keep science fiction out of classrooms, the world around us is changing. One day we'll be telling fictional tails of space battles from a realistic perspective--because in reality, it might have already happened. What will the literary academia do then? The death of science fiction, whether that be in one hundred years, or two hundred, or more, will also be the rise in its acceptance. To deny its acceptance would be paramount to blinding oneself of truth, an idea that seems to permeate the fabric of our society as we continuously make uneducated decisions in regards to laws and politicians.
I do wonder what will become the new genre of fascination when science fiction loses its status as a precursor to the future. What sort of novels will we see that break the conventional mold that will be created? Who will be the new voices of that future? Will there be a future literary form as distinct as science fiction or fantasy, or will literature find itself in a bind as technology and the death of the genre push it into the background?

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