Science fiction, first emerging following the development of modern technology, seems to enjoy tremendous popularity among people nowadays. According to Lynch (2018), Science fiction was the genre most welcomed by subscribers in Netflix. Netflix also foresaw continuous demands for science fiction. For some people, science fiction is merely a way of entertainment, but it is more valuable than this. It also conveys messages to the present-day society, offers us a glimpse of the possible future and excites children’s imagination and curiosity.
To begin with, science fiction mirrors the underlying problems of today’s society. Many fictions stemmed from everyday occurrences. For instance, Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, claimed to be inspired when skimming through the reality shows and then the Iraq war footage, whereupon she was struck by the distressing relationship between the media and the war nowadays, which later became the main theme of the trilogy (Armitstead, 2012). Similarly, from Ender’s Game which discusses the child labour and slavery problems, to New York 2140 which focuses on the climate change and unabated rising sea levels, science fiction stories are not based on the castle in the air (Ortiz, 2019). Instead, the crux of many science fiction stories give rise to profound considerations about common social phenomena at the time and stimulate social discussions. In this respect, science fiction offers more than just entertainment.
Besides, science fiction is a window to peek into the possible future. Many a time, what writers have proposed in the sci-fi stories raised scientists’ awareness and shed light on the development of modern technology. For example, HG Wells, one of the ‘fathers of science fiction’, foretold the invention of many objects that are taken for granted in our modern lives from lasers to automatic doors through sci-fi stories such as War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. Hugo Gernsback, after whom the ‘Hugo’ Science Fiction Awards was named, imagined the advent of machine translation and bone conduction hearing aids in 1911. Bone-anchored hearing devices successfully became commercial six decades later, while machine translation materialized in 1990 (The Guardian Labs, 2018). Technology largely improves our lives, and science fiction plays an indispensable part in pointing out the direction for technology.
However, many argued that children and teenagers, as the major target readers for science fiction, are neither adults sophisticated enough to develop a deep understanding about social problems, nor scientists who seek inspiration to make an invention. Therefore, people gradually develop a mindset that reading sci-fi is not of much use to children. People become extremely anxious when children read only science fiction stories instead of classics and literature, which improves vocabulary and writing skills (Denby, 2016). However, science fiction incites children’s imagination, curiosity and helps foster their creativity, too. Based on the research, curiosity seems to be the most important trait contributing to children’s success at school (Brueck, 2017). Thus, both science fiction and classic literature are necessary for children, yet in different aspects. Therefore, people cannot arbitrarily claims science fiction is useless.
In conclusion, apart from offering readers pleasure and a form of escapism, science fiction has additional virtues including reflecting real-life problems, guiding scientific developments, and stretches children’s imagination and curiosity. These merits are what make science fiction irreplaceable and valuable throughout history all the way into the future.