How creating Social-Science Fiction can empower us - at Virtual Futures

By Maria Dorthea Skov

This week The Alternative UK attended a Virtual Futures Salon event at The Hospital Club (in Covent Garden). The Salon brought together artists, philosophers, cultural theorists, technologists and fiction writers to address the potential of looking at our futures through a techno-philosophical lens. The events aim to "bury the 20th century and begin work on the 21st" by encouraging and promoting critical thinking.

The salon featured a panel discussion with three of UK-based science fiction's magisters - Pat Cadigan, Queen of Cyberpunk, Warren Ellis, comic book writer, novelist & screenwriter, and Laurie Penny, writer & journalist.

Their discussion challenged the view of science fiction as a form of escapism and explored the impact science fiction can have on how we understand and relate to our current conditions.  Warren Ellis put it this way: "We can use the tools of science fiction to examine the present day". All three agreed that science fiction is essentially social fiction; speculations about the futures of human society. 

Questions raised were: What are the tools of social (science) fiction and how can we use them? What impact can it have on how we relate to the prospects of our collective future?

At this particular moment, it's not unusual to feel discouraged about the future when it seems to be moving in a downward spiral. Pat Cardigan assured us "it's gonna get worse" - but how much we suffer depends on, as she put it, whether we decide to cry about it or do something about it.  However many feel they do not possess the power or courage to "do something about it". We often feel disempowered when it comes to our ability to create change. Now this is where the tools of social science fiction and story writing comes in. Pat encouraged us to start creating the future we wish to see by making stories. As she said "making stories is fun and we can all do this". 

Can creating social science fictions be a tool for empowerment, simply by using our imagination? Perhaps we now need science fiction more than ever?

Social Entrepreneur and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Muhammad Yunus, also acknowledges the power of imagination. Watch him tell the story of the future he imagines in a video for Skoll below. 

Let's end on his words of encouragement: "Because we create those fictions science follows them - make it happen! If imagination can do it, reality will be able to do it as well".

More on the power of SF and change from the DA's archives. 

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