I love science fiction. I love watching scifi TV shows and movies, I love reading it, I love writing it. But to be perfectly honest, I’ve started to wonder if a lot of scifi is doing a disservice to those who enjoy it. A very general description of scifi is that it portrays the world as it might be. What if humans just become fat slobs who have robots do everything for us? How would humanity react if there were an alien invasion? Could we clone dinosaurs? Some of these portrayals are just for pure entertainment, but others are meant to be more of a warning: if we continue down this one road we could end up in a dystopian future. But not all is doom and gloom. There are also more positive portrayals of the future, the “This is how things could be if we work towards it” type of stories.
But what about stories of “we need to get used to how the future will likely be?” I’m sure there are stories out there like that, but none readily come to mind. For example, something that is often pointed out as a critique of scifi is that it is extremely unlikely that there would be humanoid aliens out there. It’s understandable that for a weekly TV show with a set budget that they couldn’t go through the expense of designing unique aliens every week for the intrepid crew to come across. Instead you just put some weird nose or ears on some actors and call it a day. But that seems to lead to the idea that aliens will just be humanoid with weird noses or ears. If you were to ask an average person to name some fictitious aliens, you’d probably hear Vulcans, the Asgard, or maybe the Marklar. You’re less likely to hear Gomtuu, Replicators, or whatever species Najix is. I worry that this subconscious expectation of humanoid aliens will make the momentous First Contact with aliens even more complicated as this … thing that comes off a ship won’t be what we expected.
Another issue that I have, which I’m sure other people have but it’s not big enough to be well known, is the idea that humans like us will be the ones out exploring the galaxy. In reality, there won’t be a Star Trek future. I’m not talking about the idea of warp drive or anything like that, but that it will be Mark I Humans out there. Mark I Humans are what I call us, the flesh and blood Homo sapiens. Star Trek showed Mark I Humans flying around the galaxy in the 23rd Century, yet given advances in medical science it’s likely that by 2100 a significant chunk of the population will be … other. They’ll have implants that let them merge with computers. They’ll replace some of their organs with 3D printed mechanical versions that do more things and can be easily repaired or swapped out. Or they’ll genetically modify themselves to have gills so they can live underwater. Not to mention things we can’t even imagine. That’s a more accurate portrayal of the future, yet it’s a rare thing to see in science fiction, especially TV or movies.