What is science fiction? 

Science fiction, from both an academic and escapist perspective, exists as a sort of catharsis. By blurring the lines between present and future, science fiction and the creation of science fiction narratives pacifies our need to know what comes next. Through film, comics, novels, cartoons, and everything in between, science fiction is a prescriptive genre. Through metaphor, science fiction allows us to look at the past, look at the present, and then look at the speculative future. The speculative future provides readers or those who engage with science fiction a vehicle to travel to an imaginary place and a lens through which to look at the place we all exist in now. When we travel to speculative futures or universes, our present becomes easier to look at and understand.

I think science fiction also inspires many schools of criticism and allows for otherwise seemingly disconnected readings between the past and the future. For example, I chose to write my final project in my Dante’s Purgatorio class on his description of the shades. Without my prior experience of reading, watching, and actively interacting with science fiction, I would have struggled to come up with the compelling connections between the way Dante describes the shades and “non-false errors” in Purgatorio and our current understanding of animation theory, virtual reality, and video games.