Why I Sci-Fi (And Why You Should, Too)

As a kid, I was never cool. I know—surprising for a tech geek. It wasn't the other kids' fault that they didn't understand me; I was just a little too different to fit into any of the normal primary school archetypes. It might have been the touch of foreignness I got from spending several months of the year abroad in the Philippines while the other kids bonded over usual shenanigans of a U.S. childhood summer. Or it could be the fact that I committed the social suicide move of liking school and not hiding this fact from other students. 

Whatever it was, I didn't get other kids, and for the most part they didn't get me. Luckily, I found my way to the Science Fiction section of my public school's library during my social exile. I discovered entire worlds full of people that were outsiders, just like me. They lived on planets far and near, battled strange creatures, and created dazzling cities with amazing technology.

This early discovery of Sci-Fi followed me through life; I went to college and studied physics, researched particles flung from the farthest reaches of space, and eventually started a technology company.  More than anything though, the worlds I read about in books inspired me to imagine more for this world I live in, nurturing a pursuit of science and technology.

If there is one thing we could do right now to make everyone more thoughtful and more imaginative—to inspire that spark of innovation and out-of-the-box thinking that seems so desperately needed but in such short supply—it is to ask people to sit down with a book from the Science Fiction section of their local public library. 

These stories are far more than a safe haven for an awkward fifth grader. They are inspiration and guidance as we launch rockets billions of miles into space in search of the unknown and reshape the world with technology and commerce. We may not know the effects of our development on the future, but as advanced A.I., quantum computing, affordable(ish) space travel, bionic technologies, and a whole slew of other once fictional scientific advances blossom over this next century, we can look for guidance in the pages of fiction.

Superman’s home planet of Krypton was doomed by its age of expansion, and if one of us doesn’t want to end up the last Earthian sent to safe haven on a faraway planet, then it behooves us all to think a little more about what progress means and the consequences it can have.  The pages of a book about amazing individuals with extraordinary abilities is a far more interesting and accessible thought experiment than the 35 page summary of  the UN’s 2030 development goals. 

I hope for a world in which we teach our children to consider the consequences of our way of life and the importance of thoughtfulness to temper and direct progress. The wider lens that science fiction and fantasy stories use is a great start to rearing a generation that will not repeat the mistakes of its parents and burden its descendants—and the world—with the cost of its bad habits. 

Here is our list of favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy (with Amazon links ) to get you started.

  1. Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind
  2. The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks
  3. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
  4. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
  5. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
  6. Dune by Frank Herbert
  7. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  8. Neuromancer by William Gibson
  9. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho