Five reasons to love sci-fi!

A pretty simple post, here are five reasons to love sci-fi!

1.) Sci-fi isn’t afraid to tackle BIG issues

Sci-fi stories can be set far in the future, they can take place on distant worlds. But, really, they’re about the issues that affect us in the here and now. For example, the novel Ender’s Game depicts a futuristic, inter-planetary war between humans and ‘Buggers’ – an insectoid alien race. It’s fast-paced and action-packed, but the book is really about the ethics of modern warfare and a complex study of duplicity and culpability. That all sounds pretty heavy for a story with a ten-year-old protagonist! Ingeniously, however, the book is multi-layered. If someone wants to read Ender’s Game purely as a space-fighty, bug-sqishy space romp then they can, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

2.) Sci-fi makes for great films

Recently we’ve seen Andy Weir’s The Martian adapted to the big screen, other successful films like Gravity and Arrival, heck, Star Wars and Star Trek have even come back! I think that sci-fi does so well at the box office because its grand concepts and imagery are effortlessly cinematic. If you think of the shimmering, otherworldly wormhole in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, you may think that an animation department took some serious liberties in coming up with a bunch of polygons that ‘look cool’. But the wormhole was actually created by running data collected by real-life physicists through CGI software. Christopher Nolan was apparently so pleased with the result that he gave up on plans to come up with his own wild, filmic depiction of what a wormhole might look like and signed off on the scientific projection.

3.) Sci-fi gets people talking (and laughing)

The response to the film version of The Martian was especially interesting, some people thought it was a true story! Countless people admitted via social media posts that they thought the sci-fi blockbuster was based on actual events and everyone had a good chuckle. And it was funny, but I don’t blame the people who got confused. It’s been nearly fifty years since the moon landing, humans have a near-permanent presence in space and we’re beaming back new pictures of distant planets and comets on an almost weekly basis. The first manned mission to Mars is not that far away and I can honestly see why some people thought it might already have happened.

4.) Sci-fi is incredibly relevant

This is an exciting time for sci-fi writers. Science fiction has been around for a long time of course, but rather than guessing at random possibilities like some of the old masters had to do (and they did it superbly well), every writer is now blessed with a good sense of the direction in which space exploration is heading, the tech we’ll use to travel, and even what many planets in our solar system will be like when we get there. These notions do not constrain storytelling, they direct and refine it. They allow sci-fi writers to put characters in situations that are literally out of this world (but still totally plausible), and to explore how they respond. Plus, if someone wants to write something that’s more out there, there’s always the uncertainty of the distant future as well as what lies beyond our own solar system.

5.) Sci-fi breaks new ground

I believe the sci-fi genre is good for literary and cultural progress. Sci-fi is renowned for breaking new ground and being amongst the first genres (particularly programmes like Star Trek) to truly embrace character diversity. There are plenty of sci-fi stories that aren’t set in space as well, and that stuff so often carries important predictions and warnings about the near-future (Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror being a superb example). I absolutely love sci-fi and, if you don’t already, I think you should too!

(Note* A version of this post originally appeared on Lucy V. Hay’s author website, here.)

My sci-fi novel Anchor Leg is available via Amazon UK now.

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