29 November 2017

Science Fiction as a commentary on society

Recently I read this old book, invisible man. The book is a classic, more than century old, and served as an inspiration for many kinds of literary works.
Of course, it has the wrong science, one cannot expect old books to able to predict the development of science. But the wrong science is not what I wish to write about.
What fascinated me is shifting the culture between the time when the book was written and today. Only by reading those old books one can see how much Science fiction is actually a commentary on the society in which writers live. The difference between today and time passed is more obvious than a difference between books written in different countries today.
What I found extremely surprising is how an image of what is appropriate straight male behavior changed. I remember reading the Jules Verne book The Journey to the Center of the Earth, where a main male character was described as today would be seen as a sissy. No writer today would describe a male character like that and expect a reader to see him as a brave and decent young man. But apparently in Verne’s time that was normal behavior for a straight cis male.
This difference between times and culture is even more visible in TV shows. Just consider sci-fi shows from the 60s, and how ridiculous future looks like from their point of view. And it's not only 60s. The film back in the future talks about our time as a distant future. Of course, they got the future wrong, as usual, we don't have hover-boards, self-drying jackets, or flying cars. Although in some weird way we do pay with a fingerprint if you have Apple-pay.
But when you see the future representation of our time it is quite obvious it was made in the 80s of the last century. Just pay attention to how they’ve seen fashion evolution, entertainment, and lifestyle. It speaks more about people who lived in 80th than about the future itself.
So yep, Science fiction is a reflection of the society in which writers live. That's why during the Yuppie’s years, the future was bright, technologically advanced and religion was going through the comeback.
Today, we have a lot of dystopian sci-fi. Again, that speaks volumes about our society today. Let us just hope we'll find a solution before some of those dystopian futures became reality.

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