Why Science Fiction Matters

When I was a kid in the 1970s, I spent hours each day abroad in the galaxy. Science fiction wasn’t just a great source of exotic adventures, or an escape from ever-confusing Planet Earth. It was my new mythology. I was centered by the companionship of noble creatures saving entire species from annihilation. Science fiction refocused my self-centric perspective, and showed me that problems much bigger than mine could be solved.

Not only could they be solved, they should be. The great writers of sci-fi helped me see that this conflict-ridden world was worth saving.  They showed me the necessity of nurturing respectful relationships – intergalactic, interspecies, interracial, interpersonal. They made me aware of the hope and terror that science could bring to our world. They taught me to keep a critical eye on “progress,” to look for each remedy’s poison as well as its cure. Their works embodied reassuring ideals of protection and preservation.

Sci-fi affected my inner world, too. Thanks to H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Jules Verne, Arthur Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, Clifford Simak, Ursula Le Guin, and oh yes Gene Roddenberry, I could depart their works and re-enter the atmosphere of pre-adolescence with a reshaped sense of self. Sci-fi distinctively made me aware that I was a human being – incontrovertibly part of something bigger than any group or clique, something that might need saving from itself. As such, I had bigger things to do than worry about what to wear, or who to sit with at lunch. My fantastic excursions actually grounded me. I had a role. I was on a mission. It was my duty to pay attention to things that mattered.

Like reading more great books, and learning more great things.

To this day, the lingering influence of science fiction permeates my perspective. That’s why I shared the best of it with my kids when they were 9-12. And that’s why LitWits shares sci-fi with your kids too.

Happy reading!



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  • Jenny

    June 10, 2015 at 8:03 am Reply

    Thanks so much for reading and responding, JE! I can appreciate how off-putting sci-fi must look to adults who didn’t read it as kids — and of course now that we’re a lot less impressionable and idealistic, it doesn’t have quite the same effect. Still, I think you’ll see the allure, especially through your daughter’s responses. I checked out the Veritas sci-fi course and I want to take it too! I’ve already read six of the nine books (all by the authors I mentioned in the post — great stuff!) and can recommend The Martian Chronicles as a “gateway” to the genre. I’m a lifelong fan of Ray Bradbury, for his language as well as his stories. Enjoy — I wish I’d been able to revel in my sci-fi reading with MY mom!

  • JE

    June 9, 2015 at 10:10 pm Reply

    Thanks for the great blog. I have never been a fan of Science Fiction and I imagine it is because I didn’t understand what there was in it. My daughter is taking a science fiction class this summer through Veritas Press Scholars Academy this summer, after reading this blog tonight, I think I will read her books and see if I have a different view of Science Fiction.

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