Posted BY: Jesse Russell

Science fiction is a quintessentially guilty (Anglo-) American pleasure.  Like horror, crime fiction, and spy novels, sci-fi has yet to be recognized as “high literature” by many (especially conservative) literary critics.  This is not, however, to say that science fiction has had no impact on American and broader world culture — quite the contrary.  Elon Musk, the current billionaire bête noire of the left, has cited Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation series as inspiration for his own creation of Tesla and SpaceX.  MIT scientist and popular YouTuber Lex Friedman recently included a number of science fiction tomes in a list of books that most influenced him.  Peter Thiel, another powerful figure on the rights, draws his political inspiration from The Lord of the Rings series, a work of fantasy, sci-fi’s generic cousin.

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Whether or not science fiction is haute couture, it is nonetheless extremely popular and immensely influential among some of the most powerful people in the world.  Science fiction is so powerful because it shows humankind the greatness of what men are able to achieve.  Robert Heinlein’s novels captured the “can-do” spirit of the American Century.  Asimov himself and Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame projected quasi-utopian visions of how science and education would enable a tolerant and prosperous future.  At the same time, science fiction shows how an advanced technocratic society can go awry.  George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are the most obvious examples of these, but there are also several other works that project dystopian fiction in which the world is ruled by a totalitarian system of some kind.

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