If you could teach a class of young people one idea from SF, what would it be?

UPDATE: I’m asking a few good SF writers the following question (answer below, and please add your own!) – If you could teach a class of young people one idea from SF, what would it be?

Science Fiction is almost an oxymoron. We live in a society where science and the humanities seem to be in eternal conflict. Scientists decry the lack of rigour or practical application of the humanities. Artists and other intellectuals respond that while science can show you how things work, it can’t tell you why. Or as Einstein said “”Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.”

Artists and scientists love these arguments because there is so much to learn from them. But any artist or scientist worth their salt will, when the chips are down, admit that both are simply alternative approaches to arriving at the same truths. To quote Einstein again, “”Imagination is more important than knowledge.” I think Einstein overstates the case, but then we live in era where knowledge has been enthroned and imagination almost entirely sidelined, so perhaps he was seeking to redress the balance?

Which makes Science Fiction exciting, because it is an arena where knowledge and imagination can be brought together. I am working on ways to use SF in schools as part of the science curriculum for a set of workshops I have been invited to give. The only problem in planning these is that there is TOO MUCH. The wonderful collision of knowledge and imagination that SF has given shape to for more than a century has so much richness that it is hard to know where to start.

So. I’m turning to the wisdom of crowds. If you could choose just one story, novel or author from SF to educate young people about, which would it be? And what scientific learning would it demonstrate?


David Brin – Change happens; scared people go feudal. But the bold invent and go forth into the universe. People can become better.


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.

4 thoughts on “If you could teach a class of young people one idea from SF, what would it be?

  1. Science Fiction could open the minds of young people in terms of techology and invention, A.I, and a great introduction into Physics and Astronomy.

    Science Fiction in some cases, and increasing, become Science Fact.


  2. My first reaction to the question is that I would use an episode of STAR TREK (probably THE NEXT GENERATION) that could illustrate the simple idea that difference is to be celebrated, not feared.



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