Science Fiction as Social Commentary: The Galactic Empire and the Third Reich
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Why is it that historians are interested in science fiction to the extent that they are? What does the genre provide us with that is so fascinating and thought-provoking that it has caused historians to want to study, analyze and dissect science fiction works? The answer is quite simple; science fiction essentially is history in itself. It is very common for authors of science fiction works to use their writing as outlets expressing their personalized views. As historians, we should be very interested in science fiction as a means of understanding, for example, political, social and/or military backdrops of the time in which the author was writing. Science fiction as both literature and film, presents us with not only opportunities to "escape reality," but also to criticize those realities thorough "metaphoric mirrors." The futuristic scenarios that science fiction authors present us with are essentially different takes on the past and present; by viewing the past and in fact, even the present from a different perspective, historians may be able to imagine alternate circumstances as possibilities for the world they are currently living, or have lived in. Since science fiction allows us to study the role the individual plays in society,2 this might further allow historians to consider the role of accident or contingency in human affairs; just how much effect do individual humans have on the greater history? Take, for example, Isaac Asimov's Foundation; a scientist and his team of psycho historians manage to alter the decline and re-ascent of an entire empire based on calculations. Asimov's book, then, would be a trigger to historians to consider the roles of humans in such large events. calculations. Asimov's book, then, would be a trigger to historians to consider the roles of humans in such large events.