Why science fiction is the best genre
From someone tired of it not being taken seriously
Science Fiction is a genre similar to that of fantasy that uses futuristic and often times far-fetched ideas to tell a story. This encompasses varying levels of believability. From crappy movies about dangerous and alien life forms invading a small town in the middle of America, to epic adventures in the far depths of space, and everything in between, science fiction treats us to mind bending adventures while also serving as a commentary on our own lives.
As a genre, science fiction really took off in novels, such as in the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. These books, while containing fantastic elements such as time travel, delving the depths of the planet, and invasion by Martians, are also very reflective of the time they were written in. The Time Machine is a story that can take place in almost any era; however the main character will always reflect the attitudes, opinions, and general world views of the particular era they are from. The book itself takes place in the Victorian era and more than adequately projects the values and especially the approach to science and industry of that time.
This is what makes very good science fiction and that all movies, shows, and books in the genre must portray even in small amounts; a reflective look at our world and our ideas. Science fiction has the ability, and frankly the duty, to be more than just a romp with little green men. It would be all too easy to make movies and such that simply serve as escapism with lots of neat special effects and no real story, but science fiction grants the opportunity to explore more of the human experience than any other genre. Science fiction stretches a wide range of possibilities, stories, characters, settings, the scope is really endless. Therefore it is also endless of the ability to connect with people and has more opportunities to show drama, comedy, romance, and often all in the same fixture. Also, because science fiction is always a bit otherworldly, there are many topics that would be censored or considered a bit tricky to discuss that are easily addressed.
Such a topic would be racism, when you have many different species it is easy to portray the delicate emotions and problems when two groups interact where there is animosity on one side or both. Through the lens of outer space, or future earth, or whatever the setting it is incredibly easy to show the complexities of such engagements that are reminiscent of our own struggles in previous centuries and also the intricacies of handling such a situation. Another prime example is religion, specifically religious conviction, this happens particularly in stories with a species that have a deep religious connection in every aspect of their lives. Which is something not everyone can understand and therefore causes tension in certain situations, again this is also a great way to show the difficulties and delicate hand required when dealing with such things and people. Science fiction provides us with a way to portray such issues as these, and other deeper ones, in a way that speaks to us as people and also in a way that we don’t often realize is happening. It can be as big as an alien war, or as subtle as who has main roles on the bridge of the ship, these things speak to us and inform our sensibilities as to what is normal in a way.
There are many shows, books, and movies that are great examples of this; the original show The Twilight Zone terrified us by tapping into some of our most basic fears. Babylon 5 transferred the sum total of the human experience into a far-off corner of space. Xena Warrior Princess taught us that anybody can change, but you can’t run from who you are, and it did this in an ancient setting with Gods, much humor, no swearing, and occasionally cheesy sound effects. Doctor Who has taken us around the universe and beyond with a madman in a box, but we always see things through the eyes of his companions.
This is why science fiction is the best genre, because it encompasses so many other genres in a unique way. A single movie, television episode, book, or just a scene can make us laugh, cry or scream in frustration. But it can also make us think deeply and gain a new perspective on the world, influencing our views and decision making, and hopefully making our planet a better place.