Everyone should read science fiction

I tend to avoid linking to self-congratulatory essays from within the genre about how awesome and important the genre is – I guess going to public school put me off anything the resembles a circle-jerk.

But when someone from outside the ghetto recommends people pay it a visit, well, that’s (somehow*) something different entirely…

The biggest single task facing the United States today is the unleashing of our social imagination.  We are locked into twentieth century institutions and twentieth century habits of mind.  Science fiction is the literary genre (OK, true, sometimes a subliterary genre) where the social imagination is being cultivated and developed. Young people should read this genre to help open their minds to the extraordinary possibilities that lie before us; we geezers should read it for the same reason.  The job of our times is to build a radically new world; speculative fiction helps point the way.

Goes just as well for non-Yanks, too. This isn’t about promoting a genre, it’s about promoting a way of looking at the world that a genre just happens to embody. [via io9, and others]

[ * Consistency, much? ]