Science fiction is often called “speculative fiction.” Speculation and extrapolation – asking what if? and why? or how? – is the life’s blood of science fiction. Science fiction writers can’t wrap themselves in yellow CAUTION tape. They need to be free to follow their what ifs? wherever those speculative rabbit-holes may lead… even if they lead to dark, dank, unpleasant places.
Recent controversies within the science fiction and pop culture fields illustrate a dramatic and worrisome reversal of what has traditionally been science fiction’s greatest strength: the freedom it has granted its creators to confront, extrapolate, and dissect technological and social trends, from a panoply of viewpoints, using a full arsenal of intellectual and literary tools. Writers who were once lionized as key contributors to the science fiction field are now being drummed out of the community by online zealots who stir up instant outrage mobs in hopes of “canceling” those voices who do not fall in line with the current progressive zeitgeist.
Science fiction should always make room for contrarians, for heretics, for the unfashionable and unpopular, for dreamers at the fringe. Without them, the centuries-long conversation at the heart of science fiction becomes a sterile echo chamber. Writers holding viewpoints from across the political spectrum must all feel welcome. In this era of accelerating technological and social change, we need a healthy, vigorous, daring and courageous science fiction, more than ever. One with no ideological handcuffs or defensive self-censoring.
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