If I could only live consuming one sub-genre of entertainment, I would hands down pick Sci-Fi. Some of the most memorable and compelling series I have watched, films I have seen, and books I have read all fall under the science fiction moniker. Yet I find that it has a polarising effect, you either love it or loathe it. This got me thinking, what are the reasons for my adoration for the genre?
One big thing is the cool factor associated with Sci-Fi. The generic summer action and sci-fi blockbuster has become a meme in recent years, particularly in light of studios continually green-lighting the horrendous Transformers movies. I am confident that these executives who sign off on these movies know about their poor level of critical reception, but the fact that they keep going shows how profitable they are. On one level, science-fiction, whether that is grand tales of saving the universe with anthropomorphic robots or traveling the universe exploring unknown worlds is an exciting proposition. Compare that to a movie whose premise centre’s around the mundanity of day-to-day life, while the latter might turn out to be a more fulfilling watch, the former sounds more appealing. In other words, Sci-Fi has a unique ability of being accessible and getting people in the door.
While I love watching space adventures among aliens, I have always seen the Sci-Fi element to be nothing more than a skin. When you break down the story, be it from a film, TV series, or book, the most important thing are the characters and the relationships between them. While I have not seen the original Star Trek series, this is what made them so beloved. The facade of aliens, spaceships, and ray guns are mere afterthoughts. An argument could be made for given how strange the scenarios come across, it provides a perfect platform to explore the human condition. This is no better typified than in The Expanse. I came into the series with the promise to satiate my hollow desires to watch a Sci-Fi series but came away from it almost forgetting that it is Sci-Fi. The story and character development were so compelling that I no longer cared for the “cool” Sci-Fi stuff and kept watching to see how the cast grew alongside each other.