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For me, it is an escape from a harsh reality, into a fantasy world. It is a way of exploring ideas that are too radical or dangerous to be tested in the real world. It is a way of passing time before death.
What purpose does SF serve for you?
First, it gives me contact with a community of people who enjoy playing with
ideas. On a larger scale it demonstrates to our entire culture the value
of ideas. This has been increased by the fact that science fiction movies
are often blockbusters bringing in billions of dollars in revenue. Over the
years science fiction has been a conduit for new ideas into our culture.
There was an amusing example of this in the 1953 movie adaptation of
Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore's short story _The Twonky_. It was done
as a comedy and the Twonky itself has the form of a television set
rather than a combination radio/phonograph. After it is delivered
to the house of philosophy professor Kerry West (Hans Conreid, who
also played Dr. Terwilliker in _The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T_ and was
the voice of Captain Hook in the Disney version of _Peter Pan_, all
three in that same year) it shows itself to be an advanced robot that
performs household tasks but also interferes with his intellectual
freedom using its mind control ray. In the printed story, earlier
scenes showed how this product of a future technology came to exist
in the twentieth century and got into the retail supply chain, but
in the movie the first we see of it is when it comes off the delivery
Exposition comes as Professor West tells his friends about the strange
events. Football coach Trout calls the device a "Twonky", which is a
term he has used since childhood for any mysterious object, and theorizes
that it came from the future through some sort of temporal portal. Its
behavior implies to him the nature of a culture that would create such
things, "in the world of the future where this Twonky comes from, every
house, every family has a Twonky of its own to carry out the dictates of
the Super State. There is one placed in every home to regulate every
thought according to the dictates of the Super State."
When Professor West gives Trout a blank look in response to this, the
coach replies, 'What's the matter with you; didn't you ever read any
Similarly, in the movie _The Faculty_, some of the teachers at a private
high school begin acting very strangely. This is noticed by a group of
genre-savvy students who discuss it among themselves in science fiction
terms: (quotation inexact, from memory)
"Are we dealing here with creatures that have replaced the teachers, like
in _Invasion of the Body Snatchers_, or things that have taken them over,
like _The Puppet Masters_?"
These examples are from fiction, but in the real world people know about
Big Brother, can envision the dangers of the surveillance state, and can
see both the benefits and possible downsides of advances in information
technology. When a new comet or those extra-solar objects is announced,
people ask, "Will it hit us?" Stories about existential threats are
published in the mass media. Coronavirus fills the news.