Brenda Cooper

Writers who have created science fiction that could save the world

I’m at Norwescon, and one of the panels I was on posed the question, “Can science fiction save the world?”
Much discussion ensued, most of it excellent. Conclusions: Maybe. It has (think of Orwell, Bradbury, etc). It’s often the stories and books that are written with no agenda to save the world that have an affect on it. At any rate, later in the panel, we made a list of authors who’s books the panel and audience felt contained either new ideas so fresh they spawned change or warnings or social commentary so important and so well-relayed that they were heard by at least many of the people who read the books. Here is the list.

Octavia Butler
Paolo Bacigalupi
Steven King
Cory Doctorow
NK Jemison
Nnedi Okorafor
Neil Gaiman
P.K. Dick
Tamora Pierce
Scott Westerfield
Ian McDonald
China Mieville
Mary Rosenblum
Mary Russell Doria

Now, in most cases the books were not listed – so think of this as a brainstorm list and add if you’d like. In some cases, you might question the choices, but they all made sense in the room in context to the fan or writer who spoke highly of them. And I promised to post the list, so here it is.

2 Responses so far

  1. 1. Elaine Martin

    Hello there!
    I can think of two very important authors not on your list.
    For the sheer prophetic gravitas of her fiction, Margaret Atwood outdid herself with “Oryx and Crake” in describing where the present socio/economical/political/corporate/military system, left to complete its course unchecked, would take us in the not too distant future.
    And for a positive world model, Margaret Piercy’s “Woman on the Edge of Time” offers solutions that well meaning humans can implement to change the destructive course human are presently on… Lots of really good ideas… Hope you will add these to your list of science fiction that can change the world… Cheers!

  2. 2. Kim Assad

    I would list Ursula K Le Guin, for “The Left Hand of Darkness.” When I read this in 2010 (even after three years at university surrounded by gender non-stereotypes) Le Guin’s message felt groundbreakingand extremely relevant , despite being published decades before. For the men and women I’ve spoken to about this novel, Le Guin made them analyse the deep-running gender discrimination in our civilisation in a completely new way. In my opinion, gender and sexuality based judgements and limitations will have to change as our society moves into the future, and “The Left Hand of Darkness” should be a textbook for anyone wanting to understand that journey. A powerful example of Speculative Fiction.