All too often when I tell people my next book is a young adult science fiction, I get worried looks in response. You know the kind. Like the one you get on your face when the teacher has asked a difficult question and you just pray that she doesn’t call on you.
Science fiction? these looks say. Just don’t ask me to read it.
And while I would never ask anybody to read a book they have no interest in, I do get the feeling that this response has more to do with intimidation than tastes. I get it. I do. For most of us, the word “science” is scary and/or unpleasant. Biology, chemistry, physics; these are the types of words that set most teenagers’ teeth on edge and threaten to shut down the brains of most adults: Don’t give me any of that science stuff. I took it in high school and I never used it in the real world.
But here’s the thing. If you’re alive right now—and presumably if you’re reading this you are (if not, call me, because wow)—then you’re already living in a sci-fi world. We are surrounded by technology that our parents and grandparents would’ve labeled science fiction in their day. Computers, cell phones, iPads, these items were like something out of the original Star Trek TV show not so long ago, but now even preschool kids use them on a daily basis.
Science fiction has always existed at the intersection between what is possible and what might be possible. For example, Jules Verne wrote about human beings landing on the moon back in 1865, and a little over a hundred years later Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did that very thing. These days science and technology are advancing so rapidly that a lot of today’s sci-fi soon becomes tomorrow’s reality.
The future is a bright landscape of possibilities navigable only by the power of our own imaginations. And science fiction is the deep well from which so many of those ideas spring. Although by no means an idea original to me, even the brain implant technology that allows for mind-to-mind communication in my book Avalon is already being developed by neuroscientists. Known as brain-machine interfaces (BMIs), this tech is still at the “lab rat” stage, but nevertheless, it exists and may someday be commonplace.
Not only that, but science fiction also asks the big “what-if” questions about science, technology, and our world. It’s an arena for exploring, philosophizing, and even coping with the impact of advancing technology on our daily lives. Back in 1949, George Orwell imagined a world where the government had the technology to monitor its citizens’ every activity. Today we live in a world where that is not only possible but happening to some extent, what with video surveillance, data collection practices among social media sites, and of course the implications of the Patriot Act. Hello Big Brother.
By asking these questions, sci-fi helps prepare us for handling the social and moral complications that arise from technology. Sci-fi keeps the human factor accounted for in the advent of science. A perfect example of this is Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, where human clones are raised for the sole purpose of harvesting their organs. Sounds like sci-fi? If so, then ask yourself why so many countries have already introduced laws banning human cloning.
So really, what I’m trying to say is if you’re a fan of living then by default you’re a fan of sci-fi. It’s our world, people. Set aside those fears and embrace the possibilities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mindee Arnett is the author of one other book for teens, The Nightmare Affair. She lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. Her dream home, though, is aboard a spaceship.
For fans of Josh Whedon’s cult classic television show Firefly comes a fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi thriller from author Mindee Arnett, about a group of teenage mercenaries who stumble upon a conspiracy that threatens the entire galaxy.
Jeth Seagrave and his crew have made their name stealing metatech: the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light. In a world where the agencies that patrol the outer edges of space are as corrupt as the crime bosses who control them, it’s as much of a living as anyone can ask for. For years Jeth’s managed to fly under the radar of the government that executed his parents for treason—but when he finds himself in possession of information that both government and the crime bosses are willing to kill for, he’s going to find there’s no escaping his past anymore.
With pulse-pounding action, a captivating mystery, and even a bit of romance, Avalon is the perfect read for hard-core sci-fi fans and non–sci-fi fans alike.