Futuribles Journal n° 413

Économie, emploi - Institutions - Société, modes de vie

Testing Out the Future through Science Fiction: Extending the Scope of the Possible, Pre-Fabricated Worlds and “Lines of Flight”


As Gérard Klein points out at the beginning of his article in this same issue on “The Invention of the Future”, Futuribles has decided to undertake an extended series on the relations between science fiction and foresight studies and, particularly, science fiction’s contribution to that discipline, in order to determine whether —and to what extent— science fiction authors have influenced the collective imaginary and our thinking about the future.

This article by Yannick Rumpala comes at these questions from a socio-political angle: what contributions has science fiction made to reflection on the future of societies and their organization? With this approach, he demonstrates, in the first instance, the extent to which works of science fiction enable possibilities to be explored, thus expanding the scope of what is feasible. He then analyses the way these works open up the “cone” of possibilities, mainly by creating worlds in which the parameters of our social organization can be varied, new ones introduced, and “the cards reshuffled”, including with respect to matters that affect the human species in its deepest nature. Lastly, he highlights a major contribution by science fiction authors to thinking on the future of our societies: the exploration of “lines of flight” that we may —or may not— choose to follow: as, for example, when they explore what the political order might look like “after the state” or when, at the socio-economic level, they visualize a post-work society. In this sense, science fiction lays before us a varied range of future possibilities, some plausible and others not (or not yet), some attractive and others repellent, but all decidedly capable of fuelling our thinking on the future.

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