Does Science Fiction Matter Anymore?

The aspirational quality of early science fiction and the epic composition of later entries within the genre is undeniable. Yet, does the sci-fi of today provide us with any particular value?

Take the movie Gravity which is spectacular visually and emotional wrought. However, near as I can tell, it makes no particular statement about where human civilization might go or what perils we might encounter there. Compare it to 2001: A Space Odyssey which posits (I would argue) that human intelligence and ingenuity sprung from malevolence and so might artificial intelligence as well. Now, I am not one to deny the value of a character study or a gripping piece of cinematic artistry. I just don’t think that imagining a world-that-could-be has much value when not paired with at least some small meditation on progress and its biases toward efficiency and order.

Dystopia or utopia, show me the beauty and the drama of time’s arrow.


2 thoughts on “Does Science Fiction Matter Anymore?

  1. I agree with you that sci-fi is best when it holds a warped mirror up to humanity and we see ourselves in a different form and question the implications of that otherness.

    But I think your examples are too limited to conclude a correlation among modern sci-fi towards vacuous entertainment. You picked 2001 for your legacy of “important” 70s sci-fi, but you might have picked Star Wars, which has nothing to say at all.

    Similarly, you picked Gravity, when Interstellar might have attempted to disprove your point. Or Moon, or Her, or Another Earth.

    In conclusion, I think it does matter, especially the literature, which has as much to say if not more than the classic era.


    1. Star Wars (which incidently was released almost a decade after 2001: A Space Odyssey) was certainly the beginning of the “event movie” and a big step in the decline of sci-fi…And personally I did not like Interstellar or Moon…Her is definitely the exception the rule in modern sci-fi…I do think meaningful science fiction is too few and far between these days…Perhaps it’s a consequence of getting older that I think that however…I’m open to that possibility…


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