The Naked Sun , I, Robot, and Speculative Fiction....
Well, actually, it was only a little more than four months ago when we started the class that we spent some time discussing what speculative fiction IS and IS NOT. So, now that we have read several examples [Frankenstein, Ender's Game, The Martian Chronicles, The Pride of Chanur, A Wizard of Earthsea, and The Naked Sun] and watched several more [The Time Machine, Tuck Everlasting, Young Frankenstein, Dune, and I, Robot], do YOU agree with Steve Tully [hey, check out his last name!] of Anotherealm.com [http://www.anotherealm.com/] when he answers this question?
It is a format that informs, delights and educates a reader. It tells a story that is pleasing to the reader and at the same time opens disturbing questions. Ones that the reader may not be able to frame on their own, or even accept as valid questions in the context of their daily life.
It opens our minds to the greatness that is the human race. Even with all our flaws. Even in spite of our flaws. Because of our flaws.
It asks the questions that need to be asked, 'What is it to be human? Why does that even matter?
Showing our weaknesses and our strengths at the same time. The reader is left to balance all comments within their own world view. What is good? What is bad and why is this so?
The great classics of speculative fiction have always taken the human point of view. Putting ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
They reacted as they were wont to do in their times. Within the boundaries they were given by society at that time. But the great leap of reason and humanity came when they rose above their circumstance and became extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. They rose above the moment. They became more human than before.
When we the reader can identify with the main character, then we are lifted to the level of that character. We, in effect, become, 'That Hero'. 'A Hero', 'Any Hero'. We become more than we are by living the life on the pages that we read.
This causes change in our own lives on a basic level that defies definition. It moves the soul to a better place. This is what all writers strive for. It is what all readers recognize inherently. It makes us more human.
It is not about “Magic Swords” or even “Shining Blast Tubes.” It is about humanity and what that really means to us all. Or even if it does mean anything at all to any of us.
So, what is Speculative Fiction? It's about you and me.
At our best and at our worst. It's about that screen in your head. That one you saw as you read that story that gets you that tight spot in your chest because you know what it meant. It's about that blurry vision when the Hero dies and you know the dream does too.
Even though you won't admit it. You too, hold out for a better world for your children tomorrow. In some tomorrow, on some planet, at some time. Soon...
Why? Because we are all dreamers at heart.
This is what 'Speculative Fiction' is about.
How would YOU answer this question? What is speculative fiction? What was your favorite book/movie as we explored this topic? Why? What was your least favorite book/movie? Why? Do YOU think studying speculative fiction is worthwhile as a high school English class? Why or why not?
What IS it to be human? I hope you have a better understanding of that as we wrap up the course!
Teacher Barb :)