I've been reading a lot of science fiction shorts and novels this semester since I am taking a writing course that solely focuses on the genre. There are many sub-categories in science fiction, but I want to draw attention to pieces that label themselves as speculative fiction. Speculative fiction deals with "hypotheticals" and futuristic plot-heavy content in the story. As an enthusiastic-science lover and grade-A pessimist, I love speculative fiction that revolves around apocalyptic plots and gloomy futures. Not only does this satisfy my personal entertainment, but it also speaks on a much more realistic note: one day the world is going to end.
Isn't that lovely?
I think what draws readers, like myself, to apocalyptic stories is how close they relate to our present-day world. My professor once said, "Apocalyptic novels are never about the apocalypse." And at first, I didn't fully grasp what she had said. How can a book not be what its entire plot builds on? After intensely analyzing multiple works of literature, I finally understand what she means. These books and the genre as a whole incorporate a lot of social commentaries about society in general.
Some examples of social dilemmas we face in the real world and are also represented in various works of literature include, but not limited to: climate change, privacy invasion, and classism. The social issues that illustrate themselves in the novel usually become the reason as to why the world is ending, which then leads to the million dollar question. How can society fix the problem?
These fictional stories do not provide clear answers, nor do authors intend to give an answer. I'm sure that if they had the golden answer to solve global issues, they wouldn't be spending their time reading a hundred or more page book. Most writers write dystopian worlds and doomsdays to articulate their worries about society and give a warning to their readers. The morals that these stories contain hold a much stronger purpose considering that the social problems can reflect the present day. Books like "1984," "Station Eleven," "The Giver," and "Parable of the Sower" use unique, futuristic settings and plots to convey a brutal truth about the time they were published.
Unfortunately, these types of novels end up banned from certain libraries or countries because of the strong social and political message the author promotes in the story. Lois Lowry says in "The Atlantic Wire," "I think it's a book that makes some perhaps very conservative parents uncomfortable because it's a book challenging the authority set down by the government, the parents, the older people. It's a boy seeing the hypocrisy of the older generation and breaking the rules to combat it. No one has come out and said it, but that's the only thing I've figured out in my mind that can bring out that kind of unease." Whether or not you agree with Lowry, her statement does raise a red flag about why people of authority disapprove these works of literature. I think the action of banning books screams a much larger message to readers all around.
Science fiction, specifically speculative fiction, deserves more credit than it receives. These stories provoke mind-bending questions and concepts that apply to our personal lives and society today. The reflection of our current social dilemmas in the pages of a fictional piece could provide a new perspective to readers who might not be aware of what's happening in their society. These books enlighten the minds of people and trigger emotional responses on purpose. Authors want their readers to feel something. They want their audience to engage in "uncomfortable" conversations about the book and let it segway into reality. These writers want to see the next unwritten chapter in today's world.