What Science Fiction Leaves Out

Gary Westfahl discusses four things that are seldom included in science fiction stories, either in print or on film.:

1. Journalism

2. People in the future speculating about their future

3. The pursuit of enjoyment

4. Normal pets, like dogs and cats

In looking for illustrations for the above collage, I came to realized just how right Westfahl is. It wasn’t easy to find examples of exceptions. One of my pictures shows a pet that is clearly not a cat or dog, and the picture of the kid reading a book is the closest thing I could find to someone in the future thinking about their future, and I admit that it’s a stretch.

Westfahl says, “For critics and commentators, it is generally easy to notice and discuss whatever there is to be found in a science fiction story or film. It can be harder, however, to notice and discuss what isnot there in science fiction—those features one might ordinarily expect to find in a story or film that are, for some reason, being left out. I discovered one of these strange omissions purely by accident while editing The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: because the assigned contributor never completed the entry, I was forced on short notice to write the entry on “Journalism.” And hurried research brought to light a curious situation: while journalists were reasonably common in science fiction stories set in the present—ranging from the novels of Clifford D. Simak to the adventures of Superman—they were extraordinarily rare in science fiction stories set in the future.”

Click here four the entire four-part essay

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