Corrupt people emulating the worst aspects of human nature do.

TYLER AUSTIN HARPER hyperbolically declares: “Science fiction is not simply politically useless, it is dangerous. Two centuries of sci-fi have been a net negative for the world, fueling the megalomaniacal fantasies of tech tyrants and inspiring the invention of untold horrors. The world would be a better place without it.”

Show us on this doll where Sci-fi touched you…

Rather than take a pro or con stance as to whether speculative fiction is necessarily a good or a bad thing to society, I think we need to pose an entirely different series of questions:

  • Does science fiction affect the choices we make in society?
  • Should science fiction be held accountable for bad social outcomes?
  • Does science fiction bear the blame of new and dangerous technology?

NO. NO. And NO.

No science fiction novel, television series or film has ever left its medium and entered the real world with the capacity to transform it for the better or the worse. No matter how realistic the depiction, no film could corrupt the fiber of the society we live in without our collective choice to allow it.

Science fiction does not bear the blame for any aspects of it which are later embraced or indulged in by society.

Society, as a whole is responsible for the choices we embrace. If a crazed zealot is able to convince a group of people to do something, and this thing is indeed morally bankrupt, the fact the zealot first thought about his idea after reading a science fiction novel does not absolve him of the questionable choice to place this ideology above his good sense, his reasoning capacity and an understanding of the potential ramifications to society.

Science fiction novels don’t cause the future. They don’t predict the future. They predict a disposition, a possibility, a superposition or confluence of forces, of ideas, of circumstances which under the right conditions could come to pass IF a segment of society makes the conscious decision to engage in a series of choices which will later harm or help a segment of society.

Can science fiction be helpful to society? Yes. For the same reasons. Someone will have to dedicate a segment of their lives to the successful understanding of new concepts, new technologies, and new ideas which will require many people, many technological innovations and MANY novel choices to be made.

If those choices are made without deliberation, without concern for their environmental and sociological effects, then once again, the science fiction predicting this problem isn’t the problem. It is the lack of societal oversight, regulation, analysis and cultural accountability which is to blame.

Science fiction does not remove the responsibility of choice from anyone who reads it and decides to build the Torment Nexus, even after the author has suggested it should never be made.

Science fiction doesn’t make choices. People do. Stop blaming a genre for the piss poor decision-making abilities of Human beings, whether they be over-privileged tech-bros or greedy senators doing the bidding of their corporate/industrial masters. If we don’t want our world to be driven to a science-fiction predicted superposition of possible apocalypse, it behooves us to educate our populace, routinely change our political leadership, control our corporate and economic rapaciousness lest we disrupt the natural world beyond our ability to correct it.

This has been at the heart of speculative fiction, the doomsday scenario, the apocalyptic future, the dystopian society since the beginning of the genre. This genre did not make people do the things suggested in it. The genre suggests our inability to make good choices makes those outcomes unavoidable.

So far, most corporate dystopias appear to have been conservative in their estimates. The next decade will tell the tale.


Thaddeus Howze
Thaddeus Howze

Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.