Aaron Sorkin, writer of the WEST WING and THE SOCIAL NETWORK recently spoke about the importance of stories. He said:
“The most powerful delivery system ever invented for an idea, is a story.”
For years before that I have said, “Stories are the most powerful force in this universe.”
Take the bible, for example. Regardless of of your faith or whether or not you believe it to be true, the fact is that it is a narrative. One that you were probably told early on in life that has had a great influence on you either because of how it’s affected your actions or the actions of those around you.
History and the nightly news are the same way. They are narratives told to you that you can choose to believe or not.
And that is why Sci-fi is important. Why Sci-fi is probably the most precious method of communication we have.
Right now you’re saying “WHAAAAA?! Dude you were talking about The Bible and History…”
I know, I know, but hear me out.
If The Bible and History can impact your life so greatly regardless of veracity then a work of fiction can be just as influential.
As the great Kyle Broflovski once said “Hasn’t Luke Skywalker and Santa Claus affected your lives more than most real people in this room?”
So if we accept the premise that stories are the most powerful force in the world even if it’s fiction, then we have to look at what stories make the most impact. What stories change the world we live in and the way we think about it more than any other?
Is it that story about poor man who made it rich? The Knight in shining armor? Those are good.
Or is it the story about the robot who made us cry? Who made us realize that if we can feel for a metal man, then maybe we can feel for the man who looks or believes different?
The story about airships that made us believe we can fly centuries before we could?
The story about medical scanners that could tell if you were sick without cutting you open?
The stories that forced us to get outside the mundanity of every-day life only to look back at it and make us see the hard truths we couldn’t swallow otherwise.
The stories that make us dream of what culture and technology could and should be.
The stories that fictionalize science.
And THAT is why Sci-fi Matters.
As the song goes, an tiny star twinkles in the night. Shining bright, the only source of light in the deep.
It grows and grows until the tiny star engulfs ships and comets. It engulfs people. It engulfs worlds.
The star is dying, and not quietly into the night.
But it no longer grows.
Instead it shrinks. Pulling into itself in a swirl of gas and plasma.
Until there is nothing left but a dot in the night. Until…
A man from Earth looks up and sees the night sky. But tonight, not just the normal beauty of darkness. Tonight a single star, never seen before, grows filling up the sky turning night to day and drowning out all other lights of the night.
This is a super nova.
Or at least how I conceived of one as a kid. Something beautiful and grand. The most power observable phenomena in the universe. Second in magnitude only to a black hole. And it became one of my life’s ambition to see one. Problem is, they only occur about once a century and normally too far away to light up the night sky…
Well I was just told that, if I don’t unexpectedly die for no reason, my dream will come true!
Well close enough anyways. If it was a true super nova, we wouldn’t know when it was going to happen. But, that said, in 2022 two stars will come together in a magnificent explosion that will light up the night sky just as I heard described to me as child. The death of two of those twinkling lights will go out in what is called a Red Nova.
And, bring only 5 years from now, there’s a damn good chance most of us will be around to see it!
Now I’m not very established in the Entertainment Industry. I had a nice career as a working child actor and as an adult have been fortunate to work on a few projects that have gotten some attention, such as NOBILITY, but compared to a lot of the folks out there I’m still in the process of establishing myself as a sci-fi writer/producer.
In spite of that I have a number of friends and family have seen what I’ve done and have come to ask me for advice or to collaborate on various projects, etc. I’ve always found this both flattering and intriguing. On the one hand it’s flattering that they think I can offer guidance. On the other hand – you really couldn’t find someone better? Anywho, for my friends and family, I normally try to set aside the time to give at least some cursory notes to help them get their bearings.
One such story that was brought to me, the name of the author I haven’t gotten permission to reveal yet so let’s call him Pendejo (I did say these were friends of mine right? Well, perhaps not now…), takes place on a generational starship a star system called Trappist 1. Sound familiar? That’s the site of the recent announcement from NASA that there could be up to SEVEN life bearing planets in that star system!
Unless one of them developed nukes. Because then there’d be just one. We so would have nuked the martians. DIE ALIEN SCUM!
Ok tangent over.
But what I found interesting about this isn’t just the new reality that a single star system could have 7 habitable planets but that we’re getting real data about art currently being created. Which, yet again, brings up the amazing dynamic between Science Fiction and Reality.
These two are constantly influencing each other to create one amazing feedback loop where life and imagination twirl about constantly feeding into one great whirlpool of creativity.
We’ve heard obvious stories like this. How Doctor McCoy’s medical scanner inspired MRI’s or how Data listening to music inspired iTunes. But what we don’t always remember is that this is an ongoing process. And Science Fiction is ground zero for where the imagination creates all the tomorrows to come.