Why Science Fiction?
“Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science fiction is the improbable made possible.” Rod Sterling
I love to read—and watch—both science fiction and fantasy, but when it comes to writing, I find myself consistently drawn to science fiction. Even ideas that start as fantasy often get taken over by technology or space travel or aliens.
What makes science fiction so fun? The improbable made possible. The things that sound exciting or intriguing or frightening or far-out-there, told in a way that makes us believe it could one day happen, maybe even to us. As enjoyable as fantasy is, this is one element it lacks. (Although I’m still holding out hope for my Hogwarts letter…)
Science fiction is a broad and complex genre that can include many elements, but here are some that I find most intriguing that you might consider when writing.
I love to think about how advanced technology might go wrong. Stories are about problems, so if an invention works perfectly, it’s far less interesting than if characters have to deal with unintended side effects. The more advanced the technology, the greater the possibility for terrible consequences.
It’s also fun to consider how an invention would affect every area of life. A transporter would make traveling the world much easier, but what would it do to warfare? How would criminals use it? How would change an average person’s life?
The fun thing about science fiction is, you can imagine a future going whichever direction you want it to as long as there’s a reason. Think about common elements of daily living—school, transportation, entertainment, fashion. How they might change in the future or with new technologies?
For a while, people thought virtual school was the way of the future. And even though that’s what many are experiencing now, it’s hard to tell if the method will stick or people will celebrate a return to in-person school. Fashion comes and goes in cycles. What if your futuristic society decides Victorian dress or Roman togas make sense?
People remain the same regardless of technology or location. With science fiction, especially when the world seems improbable or humans dwell among the stars, it’s extra important to ground the reader with characters who want relatable goals and feel the same emotions we all experience.
Science fiction doesn’t have to be set on a space ship or another planet—Earth-based settings can be just as interesting, whether they’re set in the present or the future. But I’ve always been fascinated by the wonders of the galaxy, by how much is out there that we’ve barely begin to see. And since we know so little, it’s a fertile ground for your imagination to run wild. Unique planets, strange aliens, unknown phenomena…make the improbable seem possible, and take readers to a new world!
What do you love about science fiction?
Becky Dean, signing off.