Every once in a while, I run across a quote that speaks to me. You know, like Jimmy Buffet’s “I’m growing older but not up.” I love that! Anyway, when I see a good quote, I usually copy it and paste it into a file for future reference. So here are three related ones that I find particularly inspirational and enlightening:
“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
― Albert Einstein
“The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.” ― Arthur C. Clarke.
“Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today, but the core of science fiction — its essence — has become crucial to our salvation, if we are to be saved at all.”
― Isaac Asimov
What has always drawn me to science fiction is the way it stretches the imagination, the way it explores the limits of the possible by going beyond them into the impossible (and I think we are finding there are not many limits to the possible). But the bottom line is this: It is going to take a lot of imagination and a lot of creativity to solve our problems on this planet. Old ways of thinking, mental ossification, and dogmatic limits to thought will only get us deeper into the hole. The playful, almost joyful, way that science fiction stretches the imagination is crucial to the process of engendering open-minded thinking. And open-minded thinking is what we need.
Without imagination and open-minded thinking, Einstein would have never developed his revolutionary theories. Without these qualities, Clarke and Asimov would never have created their powerful and enduring works of fiction. It is no coincidence that many (if not most) of the engineers in the NASA space program were avid science fiction readers in their youth. Many of them still are.
So don’t let anyone tell you science fiction isn’t “serious” literature. It may be the most serious literature of all, as it may be the one thing (as Asimov intimated) that helps save us from ourselves.