According to Merriam Webster, science fiction is: “fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component.”

Wikipedia states that science fiction is “a genre of speculative fiction typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life.”

Those definitions are very basic and don’t really capture the feeling of science fiction, the reasons the genre is beloved by so many. To me, and I believe most science fiction fans, it can be both an escape and an awakening of sorts. Though science fiction can take the reader, the viewer, the listener, etc., away from the problems of the world, it does so by putting those problems under a different lens. We don’t only see the way these fictional universes are different from our own, but also the ways in which they are the same. When we read Nineteen Eighty-Four, we are reminded of the terrifying danger of a totalitarian government, even as we are transported into a completely engrossing world. As we fall in love with characters like Starbuck and Commander Adama on Battlestar Galactica, we are also exploring the war on terror and the dangers of technology gone rogue.

But science fiction isn’t just reflective of social issues; it can also serve as inspiration for social change. Star Trek goes “boldly where no man has gone before” in more ways than one – not only have many scientists and technological inventors claimed to have been inspired by the (at the time) futuristic technology on Star Trek, but it was also at the entertainment forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, touting a diverse cast long before it was considered important or even acceptable to do so. This is where science fiction becomes not only enjoyable, but important – by taking our cultural concerns and putting them in an imagined time and/or place, science fiction is allowed to break social rules and go beyond our current limitations to show us what we can accomplish, and what we can be.