Science fiction is subversive

The act of imagining the future has always been a quietly subversive activity. Portraying a different or changed society cannot help but be a deeply political exercise. By doing it, you’re implicitly passing comment on our present world and the way it will be altered by coming events or technologies. From HG Wells onwards, SF writers have imagined what will happen if we continue down our current path. If things go badly, we get a dystopia to warn us of the consequences of inaction; if things go well, we get a utopia to which we can aspire and work towards.

One of the core messages of the genre is that, “this too shall pass.” The world we know today – it’s political, economic and social systems – cannot endure forever. Change will come. Some people don’t want to hear that, but come it will. As SF writers, we get to model a vast array of possible futures. To remake the world according to our personal fears and desires.

The forces of conservatism seek stasis and security. They fear change, but SF writers revel in it. We dream of better worlds. We are literally paid to imagine that things are different to the way they are today, and that can be a hell of a subversive act.

Author: Gareth L Powell


5 thoughts on “Science fiction is subversive”

  1. I really enjoyed this post. All of your posts so far, honestly. Keep up the great work!

  2. This is really hitting the nail – on the head – with the hammer, though that may not always be the intentional thought of the author. But writers can’t help but be influenced by the things they see occurring around them, so it probably isn’t any surprise that they mirror that in their writing. However, the real skill of the author is to take those real-world events and weave them into a story that not only reflects the present, but forecasts its consequences. Short, punchy and to the point, Gareth, and a great start to the day to read it!

  3. Really enjoying this blog, Gareth. Keep it up! Sci-fi does demand a really frank look at the way things are, and what they could end up being.

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