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Fuel for the Imagination: Science Fiction

Gina DelCorazonIt might not surprise you to learn that some of the National Math and Science Initiative’s staff are science geeks. Gina DelCorazon, NMSI’s Director of Data and Analytics and self-proclaimed sci-fi nerd, shares how science fiction shaped her perspective on personal and professional possibilities. 
The thing I love most about science fiction sagas like Star Wars is the element of world creation, where entirely new rules, sometimes even rules of physics, are re-writable and any and everything becomes possible. That element of possibility is about more than just outlandish, fantastical technologies or machines – it’s just as often about new ways of existing with other human beings, or with other beings we can’t even imagine.
Science FictionSo much of what I love about science fiction is the way it provides commentary or alternatives to world orders we so often take as given and unchangeable. It’s incredibly subversive in some ways. Take the idea of the Prime Directive from Star Trek, I think starting with the original series (though I became familiar with it in the 1990’s The Next Generation). It’s this idea of non-interference in the development of other species while members of the Federation travel the universe. That concept goes against so much of imperialism and idea-exporting that seem unavoidable in Western societies. And so often you see queer characters in all kinds of roles without their queerness being notable, see race be understood entirely differently than it is in our society, see family structures that would be out of the ordinary seem totally commonplace in these created worlds – it’s incredibly freeing.
In general, science fiction supports the idea that any world that can be imagined can be created, and that anyone can participate in it. One of the most interesting manifestations I’ve seen of science fiction thinking being brought to bear on real social change is the book “Emergent Strategy” by adrienne marie brown that takes principles from the work of Octavia Butler to guide social change. I’m just starting it, after having read nearly everything by Butler, and it’s fascinating. I love to see what kinds of impacts science fiction can have on the minds of young people, hopefully empowering them to believe that whatever world they can imagine can be created, and that we can play some part in giving them the tools – and the belief in what’s possible – to make it happen.

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More of a Star Trek fan? Check out our post featuring Star Trek's LeVar Burton and the power of imagination.