15 January: Science Fiction is
After paring down our list of what science fiction is composed of during our first class, I thought we had hit on some key elements that are nearly always found within science fiction, but that didn't necessarily define the genre. However these points too are crucial to understanding what science fiction is. Arguments that science fiction contains technological components, takes the audience out of their ordinary context, discovers the new, deals with alien relations, and is internally consistent are crucial and reflected in nearly all science fiction that I have come upon thus far. Looking over this list later I realized that we had left out what I feel is most imperative to a good work of science fiction. Our ideas didn't seem to me to adequately describe how much of a social experiment science fiction is.
Because science fiction must be plausible enough that it is conceivable, as well as its nearly required propensity to contain exploration or discovery, it developed as the ideal mechanism for projecting social and technological issues without offending an audience. A few examples that come to mind include the mention of Ursula K. Leguin's exploration of gender roles in society with her creation of a genderless society in The Left Hand of Darkness, Margaret Atwood's dystopian society of women in subjugation in The Handmaid's Tale, and the possibility of evolution and decline of human social classes magnified through time travel by H.G. Wells in The Time Machine. This point did enter our discussion with the tangent that many points of Star Trek that would have ordinarily been screened out for public broadcast, such as the first interracial kiss, were allowed, simply because the show was in the science fiction genre and therefore unreal. I think it is this allowance to extrapolate new ideas because they are presented in an often inhuman or alternate reality form is what I've come to hold as being one of the most important characteristics of science fiction.