Monday, October 12, 2015

Science Fiction and you

In schools, literary analysis in languages classes is sometimes a little predictable.  Many schools teach a number of Shakespeare's plays, To Kill a Mockingbird and maybe a similar novel but it is relatively rare for a school to embrace the teaching of a science fiction masterpiece. 
As  a genre, science fiction has a bit of a bad rep.  The nature of the beast is that the plots tend to be a little further from the norm and, if fantasy is included in the discussion (as it often is) sometimes the plots get way out there. 
What educators need to remember is that one of the main goals of an artist (which includes novelists) is to look at the world and interpret what they see back to us.  In this way they hold a mirror up to society and we can see our humanity in what they write. 
In the movies (until the advent of believable CGI) for an screenwriter to go into the realm of the fantastical where anything s/he can dream up can happen, they would need to turn to animation where the physical boundaries of our world and the physics that rule it are immaterial.  In fiction, science fiction and fantasy fulfill this role.  If a writer wants to explore racism and how humans are often inhumane to each other in a way that drives home the inhumanity perhaps it would be better to cast the ostracized as aliens as in District 9.  If someone wants to look at humanity's perseverance and how they function when threatened with a global problem, perhaps a zombie apocalypse is in order.  The ability of a writer to set their message in any setting from any time or any space allows them the freedom to showcase almost anything. 
This freedom, coupled with the often undervalued writing skills of many science fiction and fantasy writers, should be enough to ensure these novels begin to possess a premium place on the booklists of our schools.

1 comment:

  1. Teaching by analogy can be extremely powerful, Eric. A student who has no interest in history whatsoever, for instance, might have the powers of his or her imagination ignited by a class teaching the native indian apolcalypse through The Walking Dead, like this: