Science Fiction is not about science

Today I occupied myself with more reading, and the first draft of my battleplan for 2010. Real down time is a rarity in my life these days, so I’ve been soaking up every moment of solitude before the world starts turning again. I made it through the entirety of Ayn Rand’s Anthem in one sitting. It’s a sharp science fiction novella, although nowhere close to The Fountainhead, which I will likely talk about in more detail in a future post.

(I’ve been finding the variety of responses to my new found interest in Ayn Rand interesting in their uniform negativity. Why is she so hated?)

(And…the eReader is somehow increasing my reading speed, perhaps because the line lengths are better adapted for speed reading than a print edition. More in the upcoming review)

This is the first year I’ve felt the need to write out an overarching battleplan for my life. A few years ago I would have been more than a little cynical about the idea. But I am in the tremendously fortunate position of having more options in front of me than I can realistically pursue, and if I don’t set my own priorities the pressure of each passing day will set them for me. I highly recommend it as an exercise in the run up to the new year.

Issues of note:

Jetse de Vries asks if SF should die? Jetse lays out some of the core arguments around this much debated topic. My own response is very simple, Science Fiction needs to escape the limiting notion that it is about science. It is not, and never has been. Science Fiction is part of our modern mythology. Just as ancient mythology drew on the technological imagery of its day (swords, horses, galleys) Science Fiction draws on the technological imagery of the modern era (lasers, rocket engines, space craft) to create mythic stories for the modern era. Science Fiction isn’t about science, it uses science to create myth. So there!

The Guardian publicises the top 100 books of all time. I would like to second the nomination of Ovid. The Metamorphoses rule!


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

One thought on “Science Fiction is not about science

  1. I’m currently looking for a printed collection of the greatest ‘SF is dying’ essays; its a decade-spanning subgenre that gets overlooked, despite its popularity. I’ve tried amazon, but so far no joy.

    As for The Metamorphoses getting nominated… absolutely! As far as European literature goes, Ovid is the roots. The rest is the fruits.



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