What is the purpose of science fiction? In many respects, it is a commentary on our society, who we are, and where we could be going?
I discussed some of these things in my last post, but I feel this is worth discussing further. For the record, this isn’t something that’s happened since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.
When science fiction is hopeful, we get things like classic Star Trek. When it isn’t so hopeful, we get The Hunger Games or 1984. Sadly, science fiction has been in decline for some time, at least in novel form.
If sci-fi can’t get its job done, who can we turn to? Why, its distant cousin, fantasy, of course.
Behold this image of a Dark Souls character:
This character is going through stages of hollowing–undead decay and resurrection. All kinds of nasty curses involved. It’s slow at first, but, inevitably that far right stage happens.
Gross, right? Who’d want to associate with such a character?
The regular citizens in Souls games avoid the undead. If they can’t get away from these cursed beings, they toss them into distant prisons and forget about them. Hollows aren’t like normal people. They’re crazy, they’ll hurt kids. They don’t share our values. They aren’t like us.
And now we have a commentary on how society treats the sick. Or another culture. Or a different religion. Or a trans person (Dark Souls II features a device that can switch your character’s gender).
But there are still literary cases. In The Dresden Files, calling the police or the press, is seen the by the magical community as an atomic bomb. Lord of the Rings is a commentary on war, inspired, but not married to World War II.
So, fantasy. you’re up. If science fiction can’t examine who we are, then it’s up to you to pick up the slack.