Thoughts Regarding Speculative Fiction


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Language exists less to record the actual than to liberate the imagination.

— Anthony Burgess

Science fiction is essentially a kind of fiction in which people learn more about how to live in the real world, visiting imaginary worlds unlike our own, in order to investigate by way of pleasurable thought-experiments how things might be done differently.

— Brian Stableford, GOH speech, ConFuse 91

Many people have tried to define science fiction. I like to call it the literature of exploration and change. While other genres obsess upon so-called eternal verities, SF deals with the possibility that our children may have different problems. They may, indeed, be different than we have been.

— David Brin

Science fiction isn’t just thinking about the world out there. It’s also thinking about how that world might be—a particularly important exercise for those who are oppressed, because if they’re going to change the world we live in, they—and all of us—have to be able to think about a world that works differently.

— Samuel R. Delany

What’s wrong with the modern times is that the future isn’t what it used to be.

— Paul Valery

Science fiction is the major non-realistic mode of imaginative creation of our epoch. It is the principal cultural way we locate ourselves imaginatively in time and space.

— H. Bruce Franklin

A better generic term would be ‘future fairy tales’. And even this is objectionable, since many science fiction stories take place in the present or the past, far and near.

— Philip José Farmer

Take a scientific fact or theory, add a futuristic or other-worldly setting, stir in an imaginative plot and fascinating characters, and a science fiction novel emerges from the cosmic mix.

— Yvonne Coleman

At war or at peace, more people die of unenlightened self-interest than of any other disease.

— Octavia E. Butler

SF has never really aimed to tell us when we might reach other planets, or develop new technologies, or meet aliens. SF speculates about why we might want to do these things, and how their consequences might affect our lives and our planet.

— John Clute

SF is a controlled way to think and dream about the future. An integration of the mood and attitude of science (the objective universe) with the fears and hopes that spring from the unconscious. Anything that turns you and your social context, the social you, inside out. Nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible.

— Gregory Benford

By and large, the kind of science fiction which makes tomorrow’s headlines as near as this morning’s coffee has enlarged popular awareness of the modern, miraculous world of science we live in. It has helped generations of young people feel at age with a changing world.

— Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Door Through Space