The world changes, but our need to take a break from it doesn’t. From H.G. Wells’s scientific fantasies to the popularity of the Marvel franchise and The Hunger Games, sci-fi has always been a preferred mode of escapism.
The reasons are numerous. One theory, by the 19th-century sociologist Max Weber, is that the west is in a state of disenchantment because of our society’s focus on rationality and bureaucracy over mysticism and wonder. This suggests that many people are leading predictable, stable lives and need an injection of fear and magic that seems completely removed from their own experiences. Or at least they used to feel that way.
2016 has been a fearful year. We’ve seen natural disasters, endless wars, the normalisation of far-right politics and a rise in white supremacy. Sometimes, sci-fi no longer feels like escapist fantasy. After the year we’ve all experienced it feels like we’re at the beginning of a film about a group of plucky teenagers who band together to take down the tyrant terrorising their world.
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