Why Science Fiction and Policy?

“Where policy and vision intersect”

We strongly believe that a more focused use of science fiction can help the policy process to be more reflective and participatory. We’re dedicated to having more and greater discussions of science fiction stories with subject matter relevant to government and public policy. We also want to encourage more science fiction writers to write stories related to policy issues. By combining both increased demand for SciFi IN policy as well as more supply of SciFi FOR policy, we think SciFi can help improve outcomes in policy debates in the government. 

Why does this matter? Policy debates often happen in a confused rush, with competing interests jumping in to frame an issue before a policy maker has time to explore the full set of options. , Whether in  Congress or within an agency of the federal government, these decision makers simply don’t have the time to sit back and think for about the big picture. We can’t remove all such challenges in policy, but there are ways to nudge these men and women to think longer term, to better work toward the goals that the public wants and needs, with cognizance of the uncertain ways in which the future can evolve. 

We should be clear: the point is NOT to have science fiction predict the future of different policy decisions. While occasionally science fiction helps to predict some future technology (and gets chronicled in list after list after list), very often science fiction misses incredibly important changes. For example, while the revolution in information technology has been partially foretold in books like Neuromancer or Snowcrash, all of these works didn’t foresee the critical role that social media played in defining the new internet, and it’s impact on our world. It’s impossible to do a rigorous assessment of how accurate (or not) science fiction is, but we argue for a different goal altogether.

Instead of prediction, our desire is for science fiction that helps us better address the decisions we will make, as well as who we are and what values we have. If these issues are framed up in the context of a contemporary policy issue, it can force the reader to be more reflective, to think about their own goals and potential uncertainties. A good story can serve as a common reference point in a debate, helping different groups think about the same terms even if they disagree. By being reflective, thinking things through and exploring different scenarios through SciFi, policy makers may make better decisions about the future. 

We encourage a broad definition of what science fiction is-- but our main concern is trying to find fiction that makes us rethink policy and our approach to resolving the needs of society. We by no means think all science fiction needs to be this way: ‘popcorn movie’ adventure stories and mind-bending philosophical reflections have their place in science fiction. However, we do feel there is a lack of debate about (and perhaps supply of) of science fiction stories with something to say about how our current governments and organizations can debate and set policy for generations to come.

We want to find and emphasize stories that do this, which we call policy-relevant SciFi. Many have examples of science fiction stories that open up their mind to new possibilities about a political issue, from the internet to satellites or nanotechnology. Are there key debates coming up, such as about how to deal with human genetic sequencing or assessing autonomous cars, where we really could use more science fiction stories to help us better understand evolving terms of debate? What’s an example of a SciFi story that you wish you could show a decision maker at a Research agency, or even a Congressional staffer? We want to find these stories and issues, and encourage those in positions to frame policy debates to have access to their insights into these issues.. 

If you want to share word exciting new stories or drop us a line to talk about how science fiction and policy relate, please comment on the site, or send us an email at