Science Fiction and Future Possibility
I’m always a little intrigued by what people refuse to read. Don’t get me wrong – I know we all have our preferences. Some folks like realistic fiction. Some prefer their reality with fairy wings and glitter. That being said, there’s a difference between the *shrug* ‘That’s not really my thing’ and the ‘Ewww… I don’t want to read that!’.
Some of the sixth graders in Haverhill have a genre read and this month’s read is Science Fiction. Normally genre reads (the teacher telling you that you must read ‘A mystery!’ or ‘A historical fiction book!’) bring everyone into the library to look for a book that they probably wouldn’t have picked up on their own. The Science Fiction one? Well, it is just the ladies. So, either the gents have decided to dodge out of their first assignment of 2013 or the only ones incapable of finding a science fiction book that is remotely palatable to them are the ladies.
So, I have to ask: ladies, what’s tripping you up with science fiction? What’s the ‘ewww’ factor there? What sort of thing pulls you into a book that you’ve found lacking in the science fiction genre? If you can answer those questions…I just might be able to help you find the science fiction book that fits your reading preferences.
Science Fiction, for me, is about possibility. Realistic Fiction is a little voyeuristic – a way to check out what others might do in such and such a situation. Fantasy is fun but that’s always escape; we’re not likely to see a dragon or a knight in shining armor or a troop of urbane fairy folk anytime soon. Science Fiction often gets tied up to fantasy but really it is quite the opposite. It isn’t about the impossible – it’s about the maybe possible: the future possible.
What does that mean? Well, you may have missed it but last Friday was January 4, 2013. A significant date, of sorts. It is the very day that Marty McFly from that old classic ‘Back to the Future’ came forward in time. Sadly, we don’t have hover boards but we do have a number of other things that the movie predicted: 3D movies, handheld tablets, wireless video games, video conferencing, and a baseball team in Florida.
Look at your lifetime. When you were born, we likely didn’t have Facebook or YouTube. “Social Media” wasn’t a concept. Cell phones only made phone calls and were as big as bricks. And color screens on computers were very, very new. That’s all in the last decade or two.
A very old Science Fiction novel, Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward was written in 1887. This certainly isn’t the most thrilling read. No space ships or interstellar wars. The concept is a gentleman from 1887 falls asleep and wakes up in a perfect socialist country of America circa 2000. This doesn’t talk about 3D (or even 2D movies) or hover boards or aliens. Bellamy was much more focused on social change. Still, he manages to ‘predict’ a number of interesting things. For instance, he believes the future society eliminates money. In other words, Bellamy is credited (ha!) with coming up with the concept of credit cards. And the year 2000 has the nice amenity of a home cable ‘telephone’ that broadcasts music and sermons – Bellamy certainly got the jump on YouTube which didn’t start up til 2005. And there’s mega stores (along the scale of Sam’s Club, BJ’s or Wal*Mart). Much of Bellamy’s future is rather dryly antiquated but …still, the possibility of it all is certainly a draw.
So, if you’re forced into reading some Science Fiction this month and your first thought is ‘ewww…’. Take a breath! Try and find a book that has some of the appeal you appreciate in other books (be that romance, funny characters, or some semblance of reality). And, then, enjoy the possibilities laid out for our future.
If you need help finding a book, check out the Science Fiction booklist on the Teen page or come talk to me! I’d be happy to try and find the perfect book for you!