I was just reading a very interesting discussion over at The World in the Satin Bag addressing the question of whether the death of science fiction is a sure thing, even if not quite imminent.
I think the post offers an intersting perspective — namely, that science fiction "has to" die eventually, just because the things that make up science fiction today will eventually be the reality, and therefore will be merely fiction, and not science fiction.
I understand the logic, but I have to say there seems to be a flaw there somewhere. I think it is in the fact that this view seems to mean that science will fail to find new horizons to conquer. For me, I think that this is not at all the case. When interstellar travel is a reality, does that mean there are no more amazing possiblities to be explored? Surely not. Surely there are still areas of science to be explored, manipulated, and dreamed over. These, I would say, are the things science fiction is made of. While space travel may form the bulk of material for science fiction today, it becoming a reality doesn't negate the possibility for science fiction. It merely changes its face.
The post argues that this change in the landscape of the genre would amount to it becoming a different animal altogether. I would agree with that, if it were a discussion about "the space novel" rather than an arguement about science fiction. Can't 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, for instance, also be classified as science fiction, even though it isn't about space travel? That there tells us that science fiction is about more than just life amongst the stars.
I don't know what will provide new material for the science fiction novel of the future. But I do think there is room for its continuation of the genre, even if space travel becomes the norm, just as the airplane hasn't negated myths in the mold of Icarus.
But I do certainly agree that the genre might morph in ways that today we can't imagine.
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