the value in science fiction and fantasy


A friend a while back was saying that she couldn't understand my attraction to science fiction and fantasy.

Well, the other day I was recalling some of my favorite stories and why it was that I liked those better than others, and I realized that science fiction and fantasy, by virtue of being imaginary worlds, make possible deeper analogies than our limited real world can provide; and are unlimited in their ability to create social and philosophical conventions other than what we're used to, and by doing so are an almost effortless way (for the reader anyway) to go beyond those usual conventions so that we can gain perspective on them.

A few examples of stories that do this: Dune, Frank Herbert; House of Bones, Robert Silverberg; Rangriver Fell, Paul Park; Solitude, Ursula K. Le Guin; Contact, Carl Sagan; Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card; The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis; Souls, Joanna Russ.