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Why You Should Read a Science Fiction

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Exploration of Ideas in Science Fiction

Science speculates human nature and the future of our race. But, it often gets criticized for creating a land of fantasy and make belief. The meaning in science fiction stories goes beyond aliens and space travel. It speculates what happens in the future by using a variety of tactics. One is taking a current world problem and putting it to an extreme as found in “The Machine Stops” by William Tenn. This short story shows a society dependent on technology. Another example of how science fiction reflects current world event is found in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In this movie, the AI appears to have more personality and feelings than the crewmen themselves. Other stories use a more subtle approach. No.6 by Atsuko Asano shows a perfect society that collapsed due to human nature. These stories show society and its faults using worlds that may not be too far as technology advances. Science fiction works explore current beliefs and values we hold and what could come because of it.

In the short story, “The Machine Stops”, humans destroyed the earth so badly that they have to live underground in cubes. Touching another human becomes a taboo and the machine becomes a religious symbol. With the invention of the phone, we are starting to become more absorbed in only ourselves and develop an addiction to it. When the machine breaks down in this story, humans fail to survive without it.

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Our society today rapidly advances in technology and it brings up the question as to if we are too reliant on technology. This science fiction story shows how fatal technology could be if we rely on it too much.

The movie 2001: A Space Odyssey explores a very similar idea, the advancement of technology. It takes place on a ship containing an AI and two other crewmen. Like “The Machine Stops”, this movie warns about dependence on technology. The AI learns that the crewmen want to shut him off so it does everything in its power to kill them. While we try to develop more and more realistic beings, this movie questions if it is a good idea. An odd part of the movie is how the AI acts as if it had more feelings and thoughts than the crewmen itself. As technology advances, past humans, could it one day replace humans themselves? The futures of these two stories are far off in the future of humanity, but the themes apply to us today.

Next, No.6 plays on the belief that those above us are a different human. Unlike the previous two stories, this science fiction novel uses different methods to explore what it means to be human and what kind of future we are headed towards. Throughout the novel, the main character insists that everyone is the same human and seems hopeful for a future where they can exist together. The novel explores the good and bad of what it means to be human. After the collapse of No.6, everyone joins together to create a better government than the before so they can all exist as equals. This novel demonstrates how human nature acts against us and shows how even if we want to all be equal, someone will prevent it.

In conclusion, science fiction explores ideas and beliefs using worlds that sound impossible to us. Reading science fiction can give insight into the future of our race and lead us to question our current beliefs. Technology will continue to advance and science fiction gives us insight into if humans as a whole could advance with it.

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