Science Fiction, Innovation and Social Commentary, A Speech by Andy Stone

More importantly than finding out that the epic Georgia Tech convocation speech was lifted from Andy Stone‘s speech titled “Saving Science Fiction” (starting at 8:40), the entire speech here was actually pretty good and compelling.

From the speech:

According to a CNET article from September 7th, 2007, Science Fiction is also responsible for inspiring technologies space flight, handheld computers, and cellular phones. It’s not that we’ve invented everything that we can possible think of; but rather, we’ve stopped inventing in the realm of Science Fiction. Concepts like flying cars, humanoid androids and time travel have all been present in the genre for decades and with each passing day these concepts get more boring and more upsetting.

For example, right now, I am so bored and so upset. In addition to losing the technical blueprint for the future, Science Fiction is also beginning to lose the social commentary that made the genre so important in the first place. According to the Washington Times from March 23rd, 2007, Science Fiction’s futuristic landscapes were not a simply a prediction of the future, but also a commentary on the present. Many great works of Science Fiction are regarded in such high esteem because of their ability to effectively yet discreetly raise awareness and discussion about pressing social issues.

Examples like Star Trek, Dune and 1984, in addition to their entertainment value were important because they brought controversial concepts like racism, sexism, and the Vietnam War to the forefront of public focus. And by devaluing this aspect of the genre, we are just throwing away and avenue for social criticism that has been invaluable to our culture since before the dawn of time.

… I’m a UFO…

And I’ve also got two solutions to help us bionically reconstruct the genre…

There are two things we can do. First, seek out innovative Science Fiction and, second, start a renaissance within the genre.

First, just because mainstream Science Fiction is recycling ideas doesn’t mean the whole genre is doing the same thing. [It] just means we need to explore a little more. Modern examples like Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Children of Men, and even video games like Halo and Bioshock all have stories that are both entertaining and insightful. So, as awesome as Alien vs. Predator Requiem is and all its acid bleeding, face-melting, baby-slaughtering glory, it is clear we must [Schwarzenegger impression] *GO, GO NAO! INTO DA CHOPAH! BEFORE SCIENCE FICTION SELF DESTRUCTS!*

And we can do that by looking for something more innovative than Thelma and Louise 2: Chamber of the Rise of the Judgement Day Machines, because the only commentary in this endless of sequels and remakes is that we’ve come to the end of our imagination – and I refuse to believe for a second that that is entirely true.

Second, we have to start a renaissance within the genre of Science Fiction. A “rena-Science Fiction-aissance,” if you will. Back in 15th Century Europe people were having all sorts of problems, but then a bunch of Italian artists, scientists and philosophers, banded together to form the sexy singing sensation The Pussycat Dolls. I’m kidding, they started a renaissance. And according to January 11th, 2008 Entertainment Weekly, this is exactly what Stanley Kubrick did when he transformed the genre he viewed as insignificant into a cultural and artistic force with “2001: A Space Odyssey.” This film not only changed the way we viewed the future, it helped legitimize Science Fiction as a modern art form. We need to do this again. We, here, are all such creative and imaginative people, so I’m telling you right now that if you want to write a Science Fiction story that doesn’t involve Captain Kirk or Luke Skywalker, that’s allowed. You can do that. If you want to do Transformers as [garbled], you can do that. If you want to play theme music during your submissions like a badass, that’s allowed. I can do that. I *am* doing that.

Just like the number of the 1’s in The Matrix, I have the one conclusion: Science Fiction is being pushed to the wayside and, as it goes, we are losing a tool for not only guiding our future, but also analyzing the present. Saving Science Fiction goes far beyond simply rescuing the genre, it’s about protecting the potential of mankind. In other words: save Science Fiction, save the world.


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