Today at NewRepublic.com, Judith Shulevitz makes a “half unserious” case for why science fiction can save the humanities, which have been under siege at universities from the push for more job-oriented academic tracks:
“The beauty of science is expressed in a totally different way from the beauty of traditional literature,” writes the Chinese science-fiction novelist Liu Cixin. But “the beauty of science is locked within cold formulas.” Sci-fi builds “a bridge to this beauty, freeing it from formulas and displaying it for all to see.” Science fiction—and all the non-scientific or social-scientific branches of knowledge that go into its composition—gives us the stories we need to understand a world increasingly dominated by technical processes too hermetic and complex for most people to question. And these stories give science a way to move forward.”
“Constrained by the possible, scientists must work with heroic determination and settle for tiny steps forward amid the endless steps back. The novelist, on the other hand, may leap boldly into the future without regard for fact. But a great many science-fiction writers voluntarily hew to the laws of science, even while pushing them to their limits; it’s fantasy writers who use magic, and even then, their magic has rules. And all science fiction, if it’s any good, has to be plausible, if not in the sense that it might be true, then in the sense that it must feel true.”
You can read her article at http://www.newrepublic.com/article/113670/sci-fi-will-save-liberal-arts
Judith Shulevitz is the science editor at The New Republic. You can follow her on Twitter at @JudithShulevitz.