Prolific author Ben Bova has been writing a regular column for his local newspaper in Naples, FL, and his rants are always entertaining. In his latest outing, he explains how reading science fiction could have avoided the Cold War.
Bova tells about how he got out of jury duty once, by telling the prosecutor and defense attorney he wrote science fiction for a living. (They couldn't get rid of him fast enough.) And then he insists:
If our political leaders had been reading science fiction, we might have been spared the Cold War, the energy crises, the failures of public education and many of the other problems that now seem intractable because we were not prepared to deal with them when they arose.
We could be living in a world that is powered by solar and nuclear energy, drawing our raw materials from the moon and asteroids, moving much of our industrial base into orbit and allowing our home world to become a clean, green residential area.
But very few of us read enough science fiction to learn how to look into the future and see the possibilities of tomorrow, both the good and the bad. Certainly our political leaders are constantly surprised by each new crisis. They don't look into the future any farther than the next election day.
Science fiction, at its best, is an experimental laboratory where you can test new ideas to see how they might affect people and whole societies. To my mind, it should be required reading for everyone.