In his work New maps of hell, published in 1960, Kingsley Amis defined science fiction as “ prose story class dealing with a situation that could not occur in the world we know, but which could hypothetically happen on the basis of an innovation in science or technology, or a pseudo-science or pseudo -technology whether of human or extraterrestrial origin ” It therefore involves intrigues taking place most of the time in the future or in parallel universes, far from our reality. This is the reason why it has long had a bad press with many people, who consider it as “under-literature” because it is too far removed from human realities. Yet reading science fiction has many benefits.
THE BENEFITS OF MENTAL HEALTH SCIENCE-FICTION
Many stereotypes have harmed science fiction since its beginnings: it would notably have the mischief of stupidizing its readers. But this idea is totally wrong. Indeed, science fiction explores fundamental themes, even essential for young readers. Indeed, in these works, the characters are most often adolescents or young adults, with whom they can identify. In addition, these characters are often grappling with dramatic social and political problems around which the intrigue revolves, but their evolution in different contexts and periods allows a real critical distance from the story. These different aspects therefore allow the reader to reflect on social and political questions while stimulating his imagination.
Researchers have noticed that rates of anxiety, depression and mental health problems among adolescents and young adults had increased in the past two decades. They attribute this in particular to what they call “a reality overload”. Indeed, young people today can access very easily a large amount of information, sometimes terrifying and on which they have little impact, which can worsen their anxiety. Thus, science fiction has the benefit of making them discover unique worlds, far from our reality. They can therefore escape and distance themselves from the latter thanks to science fiction. Esther Jones, author of the article that inspires us today, even believes that science fiction allows its readers to develop their own resilience strategies, since it separates them psychologically from reality, in addition to improving their creative spirit.
THE BENEFITS OF SCIENCE-FICTION ON PERCEPTION OF REALITY
Many also believe that science fiction prevents us from thinking about properly human dilemmas, since it does not reflect our reality but rather that of unreal or futuristic worlds. But once again, this idea seems to us to be erroneous in that it seems very simplistic to imagine that a reflection is only possible when faced with an exact reflection of reality. Science fiction does not need to provide a mirror image of reality to offer compelling stories about serious social and political problems. The characters must, like us, make decisions, make choices and have feelings. They face obstacles, difficulties, just like us in real life, and this is the reason why we can also get closer, identify with them. An article published in 2016 in the magazine Social and Personality Psychology Compass felt that immersing oneself in the universe of a story involved a process of “ double empathy ” This process means that the reader will be personally involved in solving the main character’s problems, and will feel the same things as him. A science fiction story is no exception.
Science fiction readers are often perceived as geeks unable to face reality, preferring to take refuge in imaginary worlds. However, this literary genre has many benefits, and far from limiting the ability of readers to face reality, read original stories, unique and based on science (which is the characteristic of science fiction) would allow them to get closer through science. In 2015, an investigation involving science fiction readers had revealed that they also had a great interest in other types of books and media. The study even established a link between the diversity of works and media consulted and their ability to understand science.