Undermining the galaxy, by Evelyne Pieiller (Le Monde diplomatique, August 2022)

Joseph Obanubi ///// “ Power Walk I (March of Power I), 201

JSaid, science fiction was regarded with polite disdain: you really had to be a teenager with some social issues to read this kind of horror, little green men and big rockets. Or, as we would say later in a more modern lexicon, it was a universe reserved for geeks and other taciturn minds. Today there is no longer any need for condescension: “ SF » seems to have disappeared, it has dissolved into « imaginary literature “. Very nice denomination, which brings together fantasy, fantasy and SF, giving them a membership full of nobility – finished, disdain aroused by minor genres, abolished, the more or less implicit reference to the radius “ youth “. Moreover, perfect identification, since 2017 October is dedicated “ Fantasy month and with the support of the Center national du livre, we see the proliferation of commercial-cultural initiatives to sell the works belonging to it… everything to support the success of the imagination. In 2016, the literary series Harry Potter continues to lead the bestsellers with a million copies sold for his eighth opus, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Gallimard). game of thrones, which arrived in France in 2013, is the most downloaded series in the world. The great collections reserved for SF have disappeared: Présence du futur (Denoël) stopped in 2000, Ailleurs et matin (Laffont) in 2014, to be reborn in 2020, but to offer great classics in revised translations… On the other page new collections appear under the noble seal of “ the imagination (Albin Michel Imaginaire, created in 2017, etc.).

This business of scrambling genres is not insignificant. Because if some authors practice both SF and fantasy, it is a fact that the latter above all brings supernatural forces into play and focuses on the struggle between good and evil, over a story of apprenticeship, where the hero must fulfill himself – most often in a vague, often medieval era. SF is mostly much more interested in developing, in the more or less near future, the alienating factors that are taking place in society today, it produces a work of subverting official values, it offers an exaggerated present. By accompanying without bending the possible dynamics of science and technology, by reinforcing power tendencies, SF offers a critical view of collective certainties and thus positions itself more or less stealthily in the political field. Like philosophers, she unfolds a hypothesis: “ And if ? And if the only acceptable thought was the authorized media, guarantor of truth and social harmony (fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, 1953) ? What if we could know who is going to commit crimes (minority report, by Philip K. Dick, 1956) ? And if the majority of the population lived in the certainty that its sacrifices are essential to win a war that it sees the images of, whereas these images are produced by a handful of privileged people who live peacefully in abundance (The penultimate truth, 1964, by Philip K. Dick, again) ? And if the left-wing journalist-star who attacks the notables on television with humility was a “ sold – in this case he has abolished his belief in immortality, but it could be against any object of desire (Jack Barron and Eternity, by Norman Spinrad, 1969) ? What if artificial intelligence took over (2001: A Space Odyssey, by Stanley Kubrick, 1968, based on a short story by Arthur C. Clarke) ? And if they were at the service of multinational corporations and the human interface with them (Neuromancer, by William Gibson, 1984) ? What if they bought and managed all the cities whose inhabitants would all be tracked (The Stealths, by Alain Damasio, 2019) ?

Contrary to its reputation, science fiction is not harmlessly delusional, and it is not unrealistic. It simply goes to the end of what is possible, of what is potential in our shared reality, allowing us to read it with more clarity. Better, some of his visions have come true. Welcome to their nightmare. From generalized surveillance to genetic manipulation, from pathogenic consumerism to transhumanism, from algorithms that impose their truth to the stories of rulers who impose theirs, his universes offer an alternative present that illuminates a present that is sometimes inspired by it.. .

SF makes you paranoid more easily. It is not always pleasant, but it is invigorating.

But the question of “ proof of the unique meaning of history, of truths » the assault of the dominant ideology, with their dangerous… unreasonableness, does not content itself with destabilizing the reader and opening him to a new decipherment of the programmed horizon. At its finest, the genre combines ruthless logic with exuberant imagination. And this is how he awakens the desire for a different frame of mind, how he reminds us that this world, where many dystopias have materialized, is not the only possible one. That we can branch out. Deviate. That there are no deaths and that the demolition of illusions is a prerequisite for the invention of other values, other systems. Imagine… Not all SF writers are ardent progressives, not all branches of SF bear disturbing works, but the genre itself can, by its very nature, be an unforgettable trigger to refuse resignation. .

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