The recent death of Ray Bradbury had me thinking about the role of science fiction in our culture and for me personally.
Yesterday I tweeted a link to a USA Today article titled Ray Bradbury Brought Literary Respect to Science Fiction. Something about that headline seems to imply that respect for the genre wasn’t there before Bradbury: Do George Orwell and H.G. Wells ring a bell with anybody, just to name two well-respected authors of science fiction (or speculative fiction, if you will)?
Dystopian novels such as Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four are considered science fiction, right? Often these novels are set in the future and while they may or may not feature advanced technology, they imagine what our behavior will be based on our current social constructs.
Earlier this year, I wrote a post about my six all-time favorite novels. Four of them are science fiction novels. It occurred to me that there is a similarity between science fiction and poetry that draws me to it. As I see it, the science fiction novel is one giant metaphor or allusion to something else–a creation of an imaginary world to comment incisively on the current, real world.
Science fiction can also be used to comment on history. I’m finally taking time to read Stephen King’s 11/22/63, which involves decidedly low-tech time travel (i.e., walking through an invisible portal located at the local diner) in order to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Great story. King is in fine form with this one.
Not for nothing, we have a new US Poet Laureate in Natasha Trethewey. She’s a Pulitzer Prize winner and the current Poet Laureate of Mississippi. Hear her read her lovely poem “Monument” at Poets.org.
© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2012