Ever since as I was a little kid science fiction has fascinated me as a person. I love watching Star Trek movies and TV shows. I have bought and read over one hundred Star Wars novelizations that continued George Lucas’s film vision. I love following the adventures of the last Time Lord and his human companions in Doctor Who. I am a science-fiction nerd and geek, but why? It is my belief that by examining and pretending about our collective future or a long time ago, in our present galaxy or those far, far away we can shine a deeper light on the human condition. We can explore our greatest hopes, dreams, fears and flaws that make us human. By imagining a different world helps us to understand the present better and give us something to hope and strive for in this life.
The human condition is well-known to all and seen everyday in the news. To quote Doctor Perry Cox from Scrubs, “People are bastard covered bastards with bastard filling.” We are sinful and selfish. Since the fall of man from perfection in the garden of Eden humanity has, to quote Shakespeare from Henry V, committed the oldest sins in the newest ways. We have failed to love God with our heart, soul, strength and mind. We have failed to love our neighbors as ourselves. Regardless of whether you believe in God or not both laws are universal as part of natural law. Love something greater than yourself and love others as you would want to be loved. We imagine a world where these laws are followed to perfection but no world, outside of this life, will ever exist. Look at the universe of Star Trek. While many of the problems that plague humanity now are wiped out, we are still human. The Next Generation shows the trial of humanity by the omnipotent Q Continuum. While I do not think Q are god, one could imagine that they fit the bill as how we see God. They stand in judgement over the human race, much like God will in the last days. Q serves as a reminder that humans still have much work to do, despite how far they have come into the stars. Q reminds the crew of the imperfections that still plague our people. He reminds us of our humanity and so does science fiction. It shows regardless of how far we go and how much we achieve as a people we are still just human.
We all have hopes, dreams, and fears in our life. Why would the future change that about us as humans. Look at Star Wars. These ideas drive the characters of that series more than anything else. Luke hopes and dreams of a resurgent Jedi society but fears him or others falling to the dark side. Leia hopes and dreams for a universe at peace with republican government but always fears for the lives of her children. Han hopes and dreams of a simple life, but fears that will never be the case. Anakin hoped and dreamed of a galaxy at peace but feared losing his wife so much that it caused him to lose his soul, at least temporarily. Regardless of our hopes and dreams and fears they will be with us when we go into the stars and explore the galaxy.
The Doctor from Doctor Who loves showing his companions both the past and the future of the human race. I think part of the reason he does this is to show his companions, regardless of the problems we faced in the past or the ones that will arrive in the future, we still live on. We don’t drive ourselves to extinction. The problems of the present will ultimately be solved in the future. They have to be if we are to survive as a race. One hundred years ago there was a massive pollution problem in our cities. Over five million pounds of solid waste and sixty thousand gallons of fluid waste flooded the streets of New York City every day. But that problem, the waste that comes from the use of horses as our primary transportation, no longer exists. The automobile solved that problem and gave us new ones to solve (smog, air pollution, etc). There is no problem too big or to small that we as humans cannot solve. The Doctor even challenges us to learn how to solve those problems with our minds as opposed to guns and physical force, so that’s always a plus too.
Science fiction reminds us as humans that despite the fact that we will change and advance that we are still humans. It shows us are still flawed people who are not perfect and selfish. Science-fiction displays that hopes and dreams drive all of us regardless of our future. Lastly science fiction shows us that despite the problems we face as a race, we are capable of solving them. But then again these works that I read are fiction. They are not real. Maybe we will achieve a form of perfection where we truly love our neighbor as ourselves. Maybe humans of the future will not exists because we can’t solve our problems and maybe our hopes and fears will drive us to do unspeakable things that lead to our destruction. Though, I can hope for the former and not the latter.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Class dismissed!