Sci-Fi Month: 7 Reasons I Love Science Fiction (AKA my love letter to sci-fi)

November is Science Fiction Month, and I am so excited! Fun fact: prior to book blogging I primarily read science fiction and while I have absolutely loved expanding the genres that I read, I am really excited to dedicate some time to reading the genre again! Tomorrow I will unveil my TBR and overall plans for the month, but I wanted to kick everything off with a list of the reasons that I love science fiction!

Science fiction (often shortened to Sci-Fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as advanced science and technology, spaceflight, time travel, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a “literature of ideas.”

 

Stimulates my interest in technology and possibility 

I’ve never really been a person that is enraptured by the newest technology, but imagining the possibilities of what humanity can create fascinates me. And the truth is that a lot of our technology now was actually predicted by science fiction! Autonomous cars, artificial intelligence, personalized tablets… those all made an appearance in the genre before they hit the market! Honestly, watching Back to the Future now is a trip, although I am still waiting for my flying car!

Science fiction is a genre of “what if?”

David Howe on science fiction

In March 2009, the creators and cast of Battlestar Galactica were invited to speak at the United Nations Department of Public Information in order to raise the public profile and awareness of humanitarian concern.

Science fiction looks at society and imagines how the world would be if X were to happen. What if aliens exist and made contact? Given human history’s propensity to other those that are different, perhaps a war breaks out. David Howe, president of SyFy, said that “[g]reat science fiction forces us to look at who we are and ask the tough questions: where we are? where are we going? and what can we expect to find when we get there?”

📖 Neal Shusterman captures this spirit of the genre perfectly in The Dark Side of Nowhere, exploring the ways that isolation and polarizing beliefs make it easier to categorize “outsiders” as The Other and breed feelings of superiority and how insidious it happens.

Challenges my preconceived notions and assumptions about the world

Science fiction takes a mirror to society. I think that through entertainment (explored more in the last point)  allows people to explore different perspectives without the polarizing lens of political affiliations.

For example: You know how history is always written by the victor? I never really made the connection on what that actually means for society today until I read Talal Asad for an undergraduate course. (Note: this is philosophical theory and not science fiction, but nonetheless stuck with me and I now notice this theme in science fiction.) What one group would call a coup or revolution, another calls acts of violence. Which side of discourse is correct? That in large depends on who is victorious. This theme is brought to life in Battlestar Galactica in season four, for example.

This constantly challenges what I consider to be political programming and the othering of another group of people. While I may not agree with decisions and actions, I do take the time to see things from every perspective and see things from the other side.

Stimulates my brain! The genre is ripe with philosophy, particularly morality and ethics

This is just a personal thing, but I really love thinking about philosophy. I like thinking about the greater meaning of everything, seeing connections to modern society, and delving into difficult topics. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for me I cannot get enough of it! The great thing is that the philosophy typically doesn’t muddle the narrative, so it remains accessible to readers that don’t want to go that deep. 

Science fiction brings philosophical theory to life for me and makes it more accessible. Fun fact: for my 19th birthday a friend gave me a copy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy. I tried reading it and my head swam, and it sat unread for probably ten years! I took a lower division Intro to Philosophy course a few years later and was like NOPE! But I fell into a theory class on accident and my perspective changed somehow. I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly I was meeting with the professor (who came to be my thesis advisor) and talking about writing on Battlestar Galactica. The next year and a half was a labor of love, as I watched the series and took notes, wrote down themes of import and slowly came to the main thing I wanted to discuss: meaning of being and how we decide a person/group of people are worthy of survival. I nearly cried when I was given Heidegger to read like two weeks before I was set to present my thesis, but it was by far the most excited thing ever when it all clicked.

📖 Check out books that are listed as Philosophical Science Fiction!

Amazing worldbuilding when done well

We all know that I absolutely adore worldbuilding, and SFF is where it is done best! I love the creativity of the author’s what if? exploration and find myself wondering just how they came up with such an idea. When worldbuilding is done well it doesn’t matter that the world is set in space or on another planet or an alternate reality because the author depicts the world, customs, and beliefs of the people so vividly that you can’t help but be sucked into the narrative.

📖 Erin Bowman’s Contagion is an excellent example of fantastic worldbuilding. I have never been to space (sighs melodramatically) but I can picture everything about this world.

Escapism

Even though the themes and societies often mirror reality, it is so different from the world we currently live in that you just get sucked in and can escape the world. I find it so easy to get lost when reading science fiction.

I will touch on this in depth in the final point, but I love that while the genre tends to tackle social issues through entertainment, often drawing from philosophical bodies of thought to frame the narrative, it isn’t usually cumbersome. The reader can completely enjoy the story without having a background in philosophical theory. It’s there to think about if you are so inclined, but not necessary.

Tackling and challenging social issues through entertainment

Asimov on Science FictionLiving in an interconnected world where news travels instantly around the world, I think it is human nature to become desensitized to everything going on around the world. Now more than ever I feel like science fiction is important in starting the discussion without politics.

The United Nations Department of Public Information has sough “to find innovative ways to raise awareness on priority issues for all of us,” and they recognize that “the entertainment industry has a powerful voice to reach a wide audience.” Battlestar Galactica was invited to speak at the United Nations in 2009 because this television series led viewers to reflect on not only the show but our own society and it became the catalyst for conversations on improving society today.  These questions of humanity and survival are important for us as a society to evaluate so that we can change the path that we are on. History is always doomed to repeat itself, and perhaps what we need as a society is the harsh look of our future to change.

📖 Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale shines a light on the US’ embracing of conservatism following the election of Ronald Reagan and the increasing power of the Christian/Evangelical right (which is still hauntingly relevant today).


So there you have it, 7 reasons that I absolutely love science fiction! After spending literally hours on this post, I realize that my affections for the genre are deeply rooted in my undergraduate education. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing experience while working toward my B.A. in Religious Studies, including taking a course on Religion and Science Fiction where we read American Gods, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and The Handmaid’s Tale and writing my senior honors thesis on philosophical theory through the lens of Battlestar Galactica. 

What about you? Do you like science fiction, and if so which subgenres are your favorite? Why do you like or not like the genre? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!


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31 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Month: 7 Reasons I Love Science Fiction (AKA my love letter to sci-fi)

  1. Tammy says:

    These are wonderful reasons for loving science fiction. I’ve never really made a list myself, but you nailed it! I love the “what if” aspect as well as all the world building possibilities. And I always look for meaning and social commentary whenever I read really good SF:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

      Thank you so much, Tammy! I actually hadn’t thought about it before but figured it would be a cool post for Sci-fi month… and I wasn’t expecting the post to be this huge when I originally decided to do it. Meaning and social commentary is probably my favorite part of science fiction, if I am being honest!

      Like

  2. sammers65 says:

    I am literally in awe of how much research and introspection you have done for this post. I don’t think I have read anything that so completely and articulately described so many of the reasons of why I too love science fiction. I couldn’t agree with you more that Science fiction is a mirror to our own reality. I feel like out of all the genres science fiction has become the best lens to reflect on our own society as a whole. It gives us the chance to step into a different space and see if what we deem as normal and okay, is truly that or if its really causing toxicity to us. There is no true judgement within the genre but rather a pressing urgency to reflect and make a change. Something which I deeepppllllyyyy love and fell in love with as I grew up as a kid.

    I have no clue if this made any sense, but your post tugged the heart strings. Now excuse me as I make plans to re-watch bsg. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

      Awww Sam, thank you so much for your kind comment and you eloquently have hit the nail on the head as to why I became captivated with this genre. It began with Slaughterhouse-Five in 2002 and my love for the genre has only grown over time.

      Like

  3. Greg says:

    Fabulous post! This might be my favorite SciFi Month post so far- you’ve really captured a lot of the things that make SF so amazing. I love the morality questions, the sense of possibilities and wonder, and yes even the escapism. So many good reasons!

    And I totally agree about Contagion. Just finished it recently and loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

      Oh wow, thank you so much for your high praise! Science fiction and its subgenres are all just so magical to me.

      Contagion is INCREDIBLE. I am reading This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada right now… which might surpass my love for Contagion. Have you read it?!

      Like

      • Greg says:

        I haven’t read This Mortal Coil, but if you like it even more than Contagion it definitely sounds worth a look! I’ll be checking that one out… Contagion and some of the other SF I’ve been reading this year has really reinvigorated my love of the genre.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Kat @ Novels & Waffles says:

    You point out so many great reasons that Sci-Fi is great. I enjoy Sci-Fi too but I don’t read nearly enough of it. I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but I really need to branch out and read some stuff besides YA Fantasy. Maybe I’ll take a leaf out of your book and try to read more Sci-Fi this month! Anyways, thanks for another lovely post. You always share such great stuff 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

      Awww, thank you Kat! Sci-fi is such a special genre to me, and I actually don’t read as much of it as you would think as I tend to be fantasy-heavy. I do think a lot of it has to do with sometimes I don’t want a heavy, philosophical plot that makes me think but hate sci-fi that doesn’t have those elements. I hope you branch out a bit and find some sci-fi you enjoy this month!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Gerry@TheBookNookUK says:

    These are great reasons and it’s lovely when people share why a particular genre resonates with them. I think my top reason is the one that you’ve listed – ‘what if’ because I’m sure I read somewhere the saying ‘todays science fiction is tomorrow’s science fact’ and its amazing what the human mind can both invent from a creative and real perspective. Good sci-fi can be incredibly thought provoking and rather terrifying at times depending on the subject matter i.e. The Handmaid’s Tale which you have mentioned and is a particular favourite of mine!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Christine says:

    Oh man, I always thought speculative fiction was a subdivision of scifi–but I believe you. I love sci-fi that relates to the real world and the potential that could be our lives one day. The past few indies that I reviewed brought up mother nature attacking us, being able to swap our minds into new bodies of our choosing, and a highly tech world much like Feed where we can plug in to systems. Intriguing and terrifying food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

      Well, speculative fiction IS a sub-genre of science fiction but it is still science fiction! And honestly the ‘what ifs’ are more than the ‘what if the political right overthrew the US government’ and could simply be ‘what if aliens exist’ or ‘what if technology advanced to embedded ocular VR’.

      Um, what book is that because I want to read it!?!?!?!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Norrie says:

    Wonderful post!
    I also like the “what if” aspect and all the fancy gadgets are super fascinating. I find it that whenever a sci fi story is set in a world that is very familiar to ours as we know it, it’s actually quite scary. They usually depict the dark side of it. Like how no Black Mirror episode ever ended on a cheerful note.

    Liked by 1 person

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