Saturday, May 4, 2024

Quote of the Day (Neil Gaiman, on How Speculative Fiction Is Actually About the Present)

“People think, wrongly, that speculative fiction is about predicting the future, but it isn’t…What speculative fiction is really good at is not the future, but the present. Taking an aspect of it that troubles or is dangerous, and extending and extrapolating that aspect into something that allows the people of that time to see what they are doing from a different angle and from a different place. It’s cautionary.”— English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films Neil Gaiman, “Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 and What Science Fiction Is and Does,” in The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction (2016)

Gaiman references Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in his essay, but perhaps a better example of the speculative fiction genre is 1984. (In fact, George Orwell came up with the title by reversing the last two digits of the year in which he wrote the novel: 1948.)

The image accompanying this post comes from the movie adaptation of Orwell’s dystopian vision, released in, appropriately enough, 1984, starring John Hurt (pictured here) as Winston Smith.

The key to Orwell’s nightmare comes from this quotation from the novel: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

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