What are your thoughts on science fiction? Since I was 8 years old and watched my first Star Wars movie (Episode IV: A New Hope), I have been desperate to discover more futuristic stories.
What about you? I don’t know many sci-fi lovers. Especially in the startup industry, I have met a lot of entrepreneurs who proudly state that they only read non-fiction. Here are a few reasons why I believe that everyone should read SF books…
You don’t need to be productive all the time
As entrepreneur, it sometimes feel that everything you do – from the way you eat, sleep and practice your hobbies – should be optimized to the maximum productive percentage. Therefore, if you feel like reading, you should read a self-improvement book. Or a memoir written by someone successful. Or a technical document to improve your skills. I guess you could even read The Lean Startup again to be smug about it in front of your colleagues.
I have fallen into this trap. For a few years, I was only reading non-fiction. I was trying to be as efficient as possible. My goal was to always get something out of the particular book I was reading. But I was wrong. A few days ago, I found a fantastic article entitled “A case against optimizing your life“. The author explains that our search for maximum productivity and perfect lifestyles can bring us quite a lot of disappointment and dissatisfaction (guess what: the perfect life does not exist).
Instead of trying to find the best book that will bring you the knowledge and wisdom you need at this precise time of your life, maybe you could just… enjoy reading a story? Science fiction provide complex worlds and well-developed characters, which makes the books really fun to read. Sometimes, all you need is to dive into another universe, in a galaxy far far away!
SF highlights relevant questions about our future
Yes, you should read science fiction with the most unproductive, inefficient purpose of truly enjoying yourself. But I am not saying that science fiction doesn’t actually bring you anything valuable. On the contrary, my favorite SF books are the ones with a strong underlying message – whether it’s about our politics, society, or environment.
Think about 1984, George Orwell’s legendary novel, or The Handmaid’s Tale, written by the incredible Margaret Atwood. Both raise crucial questions on the future of humanity, regarding global surveillance, women’s rights, censorship, and inequality. That’s why my favorite sci-fi books are dystopian novels. These stories are so relatable because they don’t feel completely far-fetched. By showing what could happen in a not-so distant future, they allow us to reflect on our current global society, and hopefully implement positive changes.
SF isn’t necessarily dark and negative
Here, you might argue that our world is already dark enough – you don’t need a book detailing how our future might look like. If you were interested in that, you’d simply open a newspaper! However, dystopian novels are only a subcategory of the sci-fi genre.
If you are looking for a positive, genuine, open-minded, and feel-good SF book, I would highly recommend Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series. The first book, “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” introduces a bunch of adorable, enjoyable characters from different alien species road-tripping in space. “A Closed and Common Orbit” is a charming story about love and friendship and what these concepts mean in a post-AI society. And I have just ordered the third instance of the series, “Record of a Spaceborn Few“, which was released earlier this summer.
This series is exciting in the sci-fi universe because it’s unapologetically optimistic. I have read countless reviews stating “it feels like a hug” and I couldn’t describe it in a better way. In Becky Chambers’ books, people are striving to do good. Her universe is much less racist, sexist, transphobic and homophobic than our current society. Reading her stories feel like taking a breath of fresh air.
Let me know your thoughts on science-fiction in the comments below! I’m curious – do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? What is your favorite SF book?
Find Becky Chambers’ books on Amazon here: