It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m a big science fiction fan. And while I have nothing against it, I’ve never really had an appreciation for the “fantasy” side of things. Oh sure, there’ve been a few that I really enjoyed; Lord of the Rings is probably the highest on that list. I’ve just always been more in to aliens and spaceships than wizards and elves.
Often, fantasy and sci-fi are lumped together—probably because they’re that way in the major book chains. And while they aren’t necessarily siblings, sci-fi and comics are definitely in the same family. Cousins? Maybe even step-siblings. Thing is, they all draw the same sorts of readers. The stereotypical comic/sci-fi/fantasy reader is one that is a bit reclusive but well-read. And while there are a lot of readers of that sort, I think thanks to Star Trek and Star Wars, the genre has probably come a little more into the mainstream (even though I think comics are doing a reversal—but that’s another blog for another day) and is more widely accepted.
I may be a bit reclusive, but I don’t think anyone who knows me would put me in the “shy” category.
But I’ve just finished reading a collection of sci-fi short stories. I have a particular love for sci-fi of olden days. Sci-Fi today—for the most part—just doesn’t seem to have the stuff. Old sci-fi tended to be on the cutting edge of THINKING. These stories didn’t rely on Harlequin sex scenes or Richard Pryor style swearing…they put forth interesting ideas and neat reflections on society.
For instance, in 50 Short Science Fiction Tales, originally published in 1963, Isaac Asimov foresees homeschooling as is done today. His story, “The Fun They Had,” was written in 1951. Set in the future (the future of 1951, of course), two kids find an old book—one made of paper. The kids then discuss the stories grandpa told them about meeting in a classroom full of other students and lead by a human teacher. They then return to their “teacher,” which is essentially, a computer. While I don’t know it is this way exclusively, most homeschoolers I’ve talked to have their regular lessons from a cd or dvd in their computer.
There are certainly other examples of science fiction anticipating the future. I don’t want to say predicting, because I don’t think that’s the right term. Instead, I really think they imagined cool things—not just things that seemed impossible, but things that could happen. Everyone knows of the cool gadgets from The Jetsons cartoons, but I think one of the coolest has to be the video-phone. We can do that now via Skype.com—for free even!
But, the granddaddy idea of them all must be the cellphone. I say granddaddy because it seems everyone is using them today. But it all started with Captain Kirk!