The author of Science Fiction has the tremendous task of making the reader buy the completely foreign world he (let’s just choose a gender) creates. The world has to be compelling, powerful, and coherent. While all genres of fiction have this responsibility to a certain degree, Science Fiction forces the author to engage in world building. They must create an entire culture and worldview in order to keep the book flowing. This gives both the author and consumer a unique opportunity. Science fiction is at heart worldview exposition. In addition, Science Fiction has many important characteristics rather unique to the genre when it comes to worldview exposition.
Science fiction is dependent on world creation. This genre gives the author a blank slate. He can craft and mold entire universes to his will. As a result, many authors streamline the process by simplifying cultures to a few key characteristics
Another characteristic is prediction. When a work is set in the future, the author is given the ability to critique or praise modern society and predict where our paths will take us. It is rather difficult to avoid the rationalistic modernism of Roddenberry when Star Trek praises the power and unity of the Federation, but Straczynski’s Babylon 5 declares that man never really changes, we will always have political conflict, and people will always be at heart, evil. The nature of man and the direction of society are two important facets of worldview discussion that are heavily taken into account by Science Fiction.. Vulcans are cold, emotionless, and rational creatures, the Goa’uld are ruthless conquerors with god complexes, and the Wookies are loyal, proud warriors who take life debts seriously. While this may seem like lazy writing to some, it in fact adds tremendously to the genre. Characters and races become symbolic of certain virtues, and rarely deviate. As a result, when the Mimbari suffer internal turmoil, the author is demonstrating the breakdown of a philosophy, not a people. Even the simplest of Science Fiction works demonstrate what the author believes about certain worldviews. This offers immense value to the genre.
As a result, Science Fiction has benefited me tremendously. When Princess Leia declared to Tarkin that “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers,” I was exposed to the impracticality of ruling with an iron fist long before I was interested in the failings of the Roman Empire. Science Fiction forces the reader to examine important concepts in the guise of an exciting mental escape.