‘What if…?” is the engine powering the best science fiction

The real history of science fiction

What if?

Last night I was once again watching way too much television on a Sunday evening when I saw an advertisement for a BBC series show which I immediately set my DVR to record, “The Real History of Science Fiction.” First of all, I’m an acknowledged sci-fi fanatic, to the point where I should probably enroll in a 12-step program. I read all kinds of stuff, from soup labels to Shakespeare, but science fiction, fantasy and horror have always been my favorites. The level of imagination required to create a good work in any one of these three genres is mind-bending all  by itself, and that’s what got me hooked.

As a regular fiction writer, there is the world as we know it, and that certainly presents a wide variety of choices for great storytelling. But when you step over the line into sci-fi/fantasy/horror, that’s when those boundaries are tossed aside and you get to really bite into the meat of the question that launches all great imaginations:

What if…?

Those two words right there. No need for a third. Those two little words have given birth to more science fiction worlds and dreams than anything else. The two words that launched a thousand imaginations, you might say.

What if  robots had consciousness?

What if  there is life on Mars?

What if  ghosts exist?

What if  dragons were real once upon a time?

Feel free to add your own list of  ‘what ifs’ and then see if that doesn’t set your science fiction imagination completely on fire. I’m telling you now it’s one of the best cures for writer’s block that I can imagine. Just ask Carole McDonnell, whose work I’ve jet started becoming acquainted with thanks to one of my favorite sites, The Chronicles of Harriet.

If reality bites, bite into something else, I always say.


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About the author
Writer and musician.


Burnin' Billy

2014-04-22 04:59:22 Reply

Well first of all I believe in all four prepositions, and synchronicity, I was thinking a good band name and concept would be R.O.B.O.T.


2014-04-22 05:14:04 Reply

I think you just might have something there, Billy…

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