Thoughts Regarding Speculative Fiction


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At its best, SF is the medium in which our miserable certainty that tomorrow will be different from today in ways we can’t predict, can be transmuted to a sense of excitement and anticipation, occasionally evolving into awe. Poised between intransigent skepticism and uncritical credulity, it is par excellence the literature of the open mind.

— John Brunner

The most visceral science fiction always takes place in the past and focuses on the humdrum.

— Dean Cavanagh

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading.

— Ray Bradbury

In short, the straw of a manufactured realism with which the sf writer makes his particular literary bricks must be entirely convincing to the reader in it own right, or the whole story will lose its power to convince.

— Gordon R. Dickson

Write me a creature that thinks as well as a man or better than a man, but not like a man.

— John W. Campbell

Literary characters… draw you in and cultivate feelings of friendship on your part. Although, no matter how much you learn about them, how much time you spend with them–how far you can see into their thoughts and words, how they interact with others, their looks, what they wear–they will never, ever know you.

— Chess Desalls, Travel Glasses

By challenging anthropocentricism and temporal provincialism, science fiction throws open the whole of civilization and its premises to constructive criticism.

— Alvin Toffler

“If you ever find yourself coming out of a time machine, run. Run away as fast you can. Don’t stop. Don’t try to talk. Nothing good can come out of it.”

— Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

If it has horses and swords in it, it’s a fantasy, unless it also has a rocketship in it, in which case it becomes science fiction. The only thing that’ll turn a story with a rocketship in it back into fantasy is the Holy Grail.

— Debra Doyle

In fact, one good working definition of science fiction may be the literature which, growing with science and technology, evaluates it and relates it meaningfully to the rest of human existence.

— H. Bruce Franklin

All responsible writers, to some degree, have become involuntary criers of doom, because doom is in the wind; but science fiction writers more so, since science fiction has always been a protest medium.

— Philip K. Dick

The main thing about aliens is that they are alien. They feel no responsibility for fulfilling any of your expectations.

— Robert Silverberg, Dark City Lights