As Ursula Le Guin asserts in her introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness (1980), science fiction is metaphor. She writes, “What sets it apart from older forms of fiction seems to be its use of new metaphors, drawn from certain great dominants in our contemporary life—science, all of the sciences, and technology, and the relativistic and the historical outlook, among them. Space travel is one of those metaphors; so is an alternative society, an alternative biology; the future is another. The future, in fiction, is a metaphor.”

What I love about Le Guin’s description is it describes exactly why I’m fascinated by science fiction: it offers the ability to examine truths through channeling new and inventive ways of exploring human progress and the imagination. It’s the reason War of the Worlds has moved society via three distinct mediums (and multiple adaptations), producing entirely unique experiences from the same well-known story. Science fiction allows us to imagine – by way of metaphor – what it is that is important in society, what is it that we are most scared of (and why) – and how we might produce a better future for ourselves, which ultimately asks us to think about who we are and why we do what we do in this very moment.

I believe science fiction is a means of exploring both individual and social morals and ethics—of asking questions that aren’t often asked in everyday life. Questions like: If it were the end of the world, what would matter? What science and technology will help us endure? What is utopia? What is dystopia? What are our weaknesses and our strengths? How can we build a better world for ourselves and each other? How do we do the right thing – in a parallel universe, during an alien invasion, and yes, right now in our real and waking lives?