Before we even dreamt of going to the moon or launching a dog into space, authors were writing about aliens attacking us from Mars and rockets shot into the moon. It is crazy stuff that ignites the imagination of people both individually and as a collective conscious. The dreams that underpin Science Fiction can represent the best of us.
Science Fiction creates a collective framework for kids and even adults to have a dream, a far off vision of what we can head toward. It was crazy in the late 1800’s to think of flying, let alone going to the moon. In the 1980’s, it was crazy to think of Artificial Intelligence and advanced computer algorithms that “think” for us. But once an author has the courage to put out some farfetched, skewed idea, it enters into the zeitgeist and takes on a life of its own.
Sometimes that life is nothing more than a work of art, like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey. Supercomputers did not go crazy and began to kill astronauts as we populated the solar system. Instead, we saw an increasingly polarized space race with the Soviets that came to an end as space exploration cooled down in the past few decades. There was nothing wrong with Kubrick’s vision though, he was just a bit optimistic in his timeline.
Just as we read old books for motivation and direction, we can also look to the future. Our ancestors had to survive in the wilderness and create civilization. In the future, our progeny have to face off in similar harsh situations just to survive. When we read these stories, for a moment, our office job, or our two hour commute does not seem so bad.