Science Fiction for a Better Tomorrow

In August, 2020, we ran a contest to gather your thoughts on “How Science Fiction Gives You Hope for the Future.”  We had many wonderful entries, which made selecting prize winners difficult indeed. We think our top three choices delivered a great representation of the arc of hope that Science Fiction provides us all.

First Place

What if goodness prevails? What if our potential is fulfilled?

Tell us a story, Science Fiction. Show us humanity’s generous heart. Show us humanity’s indomitable spirit. Show us limitless imagination. Show us what we can become.

Show us the way.

Joe Potts – Pennsylvania, USA

Second Place

As a boy, Tom Swift books about a lad going to space gave me courage when I couldn’t walk. I read them after surgery and casts. When I saw men land on the Moon, I knew anything was possible. Even a boy being able to walk without falling down.

Wulf Moon – Washington, USA

Third Place

My aging wife remembers less as the sun sets, but her shelf of science fiction stories from imaginative authors fills her days, though she can’t remember reading them a week later. Thrilling sagas of discovery and explorations bring her joy or wonder. No pharmaceutical can do that. None should.

RT – Texas, USA

Those Who Hope and Dream of a Better Future

We’d like to offer our thanks to the many inspiring entries that came to us from across the country and around the world. Some are beautifully written, others imaginatively composed, still others straight from the heart. We’ve listed them below in no particular order, other than to start with “a bag of acorns,” which might serve as a fitting simile for the rest.

Science fiction reminds me of a bag of acorns. Years ago, my father and I planted acorns at the edge of our farm. Some rotted in the soil, some died young, and others grew strong. We did it knowing that the canopy we planted won’t shelter us but others.

Peter Foote – Nova Scotia, Canada

Words travel, faster than the speed of imagination, reaching futures of limitless possibilities and dire warnings. A duality. A love letter to our potential selves, capturing the infinity of humanity. Bedtime stories we tell ourselves so we will wake up to a better place in the universe tomorrow.

Mandy D. Chew – California, USA

Writing and reading about theoretical futures gives us destinations to travel toward. We may never reach those places, but if we can ultimately stay on course and progress — even if we get sidetracked by some adventures — others can pick up where we left off.

Matt Athanasiou – Illinois, USA

It’s not just that these stories show human beings overcoming troubles and expanding our horizons, it’s also simply that there are people out there, having these thoughts, dreaming better futures, and writing them down. I’m glad to live in a world with such thoughts.

MV – Ohio, USA

The world today is a bleak place, hostile to people who look and think like me — queer and trans folk are facing increasing discrimination and hate crimes, while my Black and Brown sibs are facing far worse. Science fiction gives me the hope that things will improve. I need those visions of the future to keep fighting today.

Ember Randall – Colorado, USA

For me, the hope in science fiction isn’t about the technology. It’s about the connections we can make with each other. Even if one of us is an android, or a gelatinous semi-solid, or a cyborg who grew up in a hive mind—we can still earn to understand each other.

Gabriela Santiago, Minnesota, USA

Science fiction dares us to ask, “What can we really do?” and “Who do we want to be?” It lets us explore how we will (not can, will) reach the destination of a better world. What’s more human than looking at a problem and dreaming of ways to solve it?

Stephen C. Curro – Colorado, USA

Forty two words for a better tomorrow:

The reading (at first) is suffering,
The suffering is insight.
The insight is knowledge.
The knowledge is experience.
The experience is wisdom.
The wisdom is vision.
The vision is hope.
The hope is future.
The future (at the end) is speculative fiction.

Valentin D. Ivanov – Bulgaria

Before my middle teen’s, Jules Verne took me From the Earth to the Moon, Heinlein took me in a starship to defend humanity and Anne McCaffrey taught me to ride a dragon. Science Fiction shapes us for a future with no limits. Envisioning a bright future helps us build it.

Roy Moxley – Idaho, USA

All stories have protagonists—but the heroes of science fiction conquer worlds; they spin through stars, find love with robots, travel through time, and stand in awe at first contact. Science fiction folds the future into the present and reminds us that we will one day grow into our dreams.

S W Pisciotta – Colorado, USA

Science Fiction doesn’t just predict the future. It shapes our tomorrow. Many inventions and breakthroughs only come into existence thanks to flashes of inspiration offered by brilliant and captivating Science Fiction stories. Those same passions are also tempered with cautionary tales thanks to Science Fiction. In essence, Science Fiction often writes our factual future.

E.K. Lekman – Florida, USA

With a look only an earnest five-year-old could muster, Mackenzie asked his sleepy father what “disability” was.
The father paused, as the wheelchair brought his son up to the bed for their morning hug. His arms enveloped the child. “The past.” He said with a smile.

This is my hope.

Jay Faulkner – Northern Ireland

A Science Fiction story takes a problem from now, then builds power and momentum to bring the audience on a ride of wonder. It brings these ideas and truth to a place and time that has used the answers to fix the problems of now, giving hope to a very dark and frightening time.

Leslie Jean – Rhode Island, USA

Through tales of spacefarers and future tech, science fiction gives me practice meeting people who are WILDLY different than me in motives, beliefs, and actions. I may never understand them fully.  But no matter; the repeated practice strengthens and expands my compassion, so that when I reach for it in real life, it is already strong.

Danielle Williams – Nevada, USA

Science Fiction: Extricate worlds, cultures, and paths from ideas. Then weigh the prototype before molding the bearing gears. Anticipate so you can better calculate your approach.

Jardine – Washington, USA

I look at science fiction as giving hope and trying to help me endure each day, in order to have the kind of life I feel I was meant to have. Ever since I was a kid going through a rough upbringing, SF always brought God’s promised hope.

Thomas R. Skidmore, Pennsylvania, USA

The batteries are lighter. The tech faster, better. The seats more comfortable. And at some point – probably sooner than I realize – our wheelchairs are going to fly. And if we’re really lucky, dispense hot coffee and chocolate on demand.

Mari Ness – Florida, USA

Science Fiction offers the vision of growth, change and the possibility of acceptance on all levels of life. For me, movies such as WALL-E show a future all too likely but offer the chance to stop now and reimagine the world we are creating. If we can put aside all else except the nurturing of life, all levels of life, then we can turn the ship around. To go beyond the Earth is just one small step away, to heal the Earth of her wounds is just a breath away – this is what Sci Fi tells me – the future is ours to create and imagine.

LM – WA, Australia

Science fiction gives us hope that by the next century we’ll all have flying cars, with in-dash holographic displays, enabling us to watch historical shows about the horse-and-buggy era as we travel between continents in personal vehicles.

GLJ – Texas, USA

Science fiction documents the meanderings of the mind. Putting visions of the imagination into words sparks empathetic commonality in readers. Whether utopian or nightmarish, speculations of the future (or alternative pasts and presents) let us know that we are not alone. Others share our fears, confusion, hopes, longings, and expectations.

John Walters – Washington, USA

In midnight’s chill, I gaze upon the glorious stars knowing I am not alone. That mysteries and blessings exist far beyond what is known. The fertile fields of imagination, recorded in book and verse, are but the key to treasures untold. One day the good we dream will be real.

John Kaniecki – New Jersey, USA

The math: Seeing moral and technological solutions to the problems facing people in our world + Watching sci-fi characters overcome the odds and do positive things with that technology = motivation to be even better in real life!

JWS – Ohio, USA

I have spent the past four years trying to avoid listening to a president who appeals to the worst in people. Science fiction appeals to the best in us. It can be something lowbrow, like “Star Trek” or “Starship Troopers”. It can be something like “The Dispossessed”, by Ursula K. Le Guin, that takes itself too seriously. But the message will be the same, we can do more, we can be more than we are. We need that message now.

Jean Martin – Pennsylvania, USA

Since I was a child, reading Science Fiction has lightened the burden of living on a backwards world, with the promise of an enlightened future just within humanity’s grasp being the beacon I could always reach for.

Michael A. Clark – North Carolina, USA

The very essence of Science Fiction is hope, hope for a better future; or hope for a world that doesn’t have to be, where anguish rules and people cower. To me, Science Fiction is the pure exploration of ourselves; it’s an exploration of the human spirit.

AH – Florida, USA

“Science Fiction breeds hope for a distant utopian future, perhaps nestled in an alien landscape, where we can finally return to the safety and comfort of the caves from which we came.”

Steve Behram, Maryland, USA

I dream of nudity and smiles. Love and sex. Guiltless, victimless orgies of feast and fun. Mad battles, the rush of armies flashing swords. Then at the end of the day everyone goes home. An unlimited universe is there waiting for us at the junction of mind, technology and body.

Ryan Priest – Colorado, USA

As promised by some eighties AT&T commercials, which were science-fantastical at the time, I can now fax from the beach. This gives me hope that we’ll soon be able to replicate cruelty-free hotdog proteins and tele-import free beer for the best beach cookouts ever!

MAT – Florida, USA

Science Fiction not only allows people to dream about a grander future–from imagining what it would be like to be inside a self-driving car to wondering how a human society on Mars would function–but it also drives us to be better people, to do better, as well.

Srijani Ganguly – Dublin, Ireland

To me, science fiction means many things. The biggest is a promise. Tomorrow. Nothing means more to me. For tomorrow gives you so much. Good days, bad days, are contained to the present, but tomorrow, that only has possibilities. Can find a time machine, get abducted, anything could happen tomorrow.

Eric Zeigler – Indiana, USA

I read a novel called The Alien Way by Gordon R. Dickson, which speaks about using psychology to understand an alien race, so science fiction can teach us to accept others who are different from ourselves and look for diplomatic solutions, rather than going to war with each other.

Amanda H. Geard – Cape Town, South Africa

Science fiction is a literary tradition that seeks to understand and cope with tumultuous change. At its best, it aims at gaining a vantage on the altering shapes of the present. For science fiction to broadcast as a beacon of hope, its authors imagine humanity’s responses to this time’s pressures, extending them into the future.

Andrew Reichard – Michigan, USA

From Jesse Jackson’s “keep HOPE alive” to Obama’s campaign of HOPE, I’ve spent my 73 years of loss clinging to the fragile promise of our SF community that rejects dystopia to illuminate the ability to vanquish the darkness in which we find ourselves. For without HOPE we have no future.

Bill DeArmond – Kansas, USA

The day Science Fiction writers stopped telling Frankenstein stories the future became a lot brighter. Science was our saviour, not our downfall. Politicians asked scientists’ advice before rolling out new policies. People listened and understood, even when the scientists admitted the science was uncertain. Still no jetpacks though.

Liam – London, United Kingdom

Sci-fi has always tried to predict our future. Sometimes it even succeeds. With countless stories of futures where diversity is respected, where human invention combats climate change, where vaccines end viral plagues; the idea that even one hopeful prediction could become reality is like looking into the darkness and flipping on a light.

Lex T. Lindsay – Texas, USA

Science Fiction is a boon,
A reminder of those who fought, who thought, who bore.
Infinite possibilities, galaxies, the human mind,
Holding a baby for the first time.

Those who stood before,
On a different planet or a moon.
Rebels, revolutionaries, or the mother next door.
We are not alone.

S.M. Isaac – Victoria, Australia

Hope Is Not a Cute Girl

She is a variable in an integral driving dystopia to utopia. She injects life into the inanimate and gives cause to the hopeless. We stood in Zanzibar, flown on Barsoom, and laughed at attack ships off the shoulders of Orion. With her, we surf social turbulence, rising into wonder’s starscape.

Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond – Austria

Science Fiction allows us to reimagine tomorrow, see the world with new eyes, forge impossible futures with our ideas, and provide potential roadmaps to turn dreams into reality, giving us moxie to explore untapped frontiers so we may allons-y with force and prosper through long, healthy, fulfilling lives that matter.

Jonathan G. Chew – California, USA

Science fiction gives me hope for the future because science fiction implies there *will* be a future and the world will not end in 2020, as currently seems likely. As George Stewart promised, the Earth will abide. The EPA may be dying, but the 19th Amendment survives. My grandchildren will survive.

SMMM – Tennessee, USA

Science Fiction often offers the concept of a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate. Whether on an unexplored planet, in an alternate universe, or via a dystopian reset, humanity has the chance to start again. Infancy regained. This gives me hope for the future.

JT Morse – Texas, USA

Science fiction is a fiction with reality exposed within, exploring possibilities of what could be and offers an opportunity to see what is actually happening in reality. It allows us to see reality in a new light while shaping the future of what we can become.

B.M.A. Rook – Arizona, USA

Humankind routinely consults philosophers and dreamers for visions of the future. Science fiction provides a unique opportunity to inspire and nurture tomorrow’s inventors, explorers, leaders, and entrepreneurs. Surely a feast of utopian ideals, steeped in visions of equality, salted with diversity, and served with positivity, will foster an enlightened society.

Angela Kayd – Massachusetts, USA

Contest Prizes:

First Place: Vulcan IDIC jewelry.  Second Place: Bluetooth STNG com badge.  Third Place: Print subscription to DreamForge. All 3 winners received a print subscription to DreamForge Magazine.