When I think about science fiction, I find myself hardly thinking about a word that could be equally applied to all science fiction I have read. It is not easy to define science fiction because reading different science fiction brings me totally different experiences. Some science fiction makes me feel worried about the possible results that may be brought by the development of technology, some opens a door for me to imagine the possible state of being of another civilization. If there is something in common among all those science fiction, I think the common point should be that all stories start with a “what if” question: What if a scientific hypothesis comes true? What if one day one’s memory could be stored in a chip? What if aliens from Mars invade the Earth? I’ve read an interview of Cixin Liu, in which he said that the inspiration of his novel The Three Body Problem comes from an occasional thought of “what the solar system will be like if it becomes a two-dimensional painting.” Thus for me, science fiction is a construction of a series of plots based on a “what if” question. Of course, the author integrates his/her own values extracted from personal experience reflections on the social reality into plots’ development.

Another point I want to make about science fiction is that science fiction is not a prediction of the future, but at most, one’s descriptive imagination of the future based on reality. Many science fiction plots describe the possible actions that people may take under certain circumstances derived from certain scientific concepts. It may seem futuristic, but it is still confined by the knowledge people could have now. The creation of science fiction is closely related to the times, and the ideas in the works were also the most concerned topics at the time. The writers used scientific concepts and settings to make the story look surreal.