Science Fiction and Cargo Cult Worlds

All fiction presents us with a sort of made-up world, some of it is closer to reality than others – little Cargo Cult worlds. It helps us solidify social heuristics.

Science Fiction, as a genre, often tends to try out really different Cargo Cult Worlds and see how well or poorly they work. They create new realities based on things that are different from our real world. Then they look at the results of such a view and help us learn from that.

So you have the Left Hand of Darkness, which twists ideas of sexes. Or NIghtfall, where darkness finally falls on a planet with 6 suns. Or First Contact, which examines the first time a human ship encounters an alien one.

In each of these, and many other examples, a new situation is presented to a culture and it has to adapt. Some do pretty well (First Contact) and some do very poorly (Nightfall).

I sometimes wonder if the people who read science fiction are more adaptive in changing social conditions? Science Fiction gives them plenty of opportunities to postulate their own reactions and agree/disagree with the author’s choice. Or it may just attract people who are already open and adaptive who like to be exposed to lots of changes.

So, I’m not so much wondering about cause and effect with science fiction as much as whether it is a marker for the types of adaptive people that a community needs.