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Author Notes:
Hannah Rose Williams
When I previewed this page on deviantART some time ago, a follower said he'd never thought about science fiction as expressing a deep longing.

I argued that fantasy and science fiction use very similar archetypes, but not to the same effectiveness. "City on the Edge of Forever," an episode from the original Star Trek, illustrates my point pretty well. Kirk and the gang travel back and time to meet a philanthropic woman who feeds the homeless and preaches to them. Only the story goes that creator Gene Roddenberry ordered changes to the script, presumably to remove the religious message. So the woman's sermon to the homeless is, "Take hope, someday we'll have spaceships." Thanks, that makes me feel better about my abject poverty. What's most irksome about that scene is the way she waxes poetic about atomic power. At the time, most other sci-fi writers were living in dread of the atom bomb, but Roddenberry was still clinging to Vernian optimism.

So here we have fantasy/religious archetypes like gods and the eternal, and science fiction replaces them with aliens and technology, but in my opinion, doing so removes a lot of the existential comfort.

Carl Sagan, referring to the importance of contacting aliens, said, "When we know who they are, we'll know who we are." Frank Peretti joked that if we ever get a message from space, it will be saying the same thing: "When we know who they are, we'll know who we are..." We look around at a crumbling world and place our eternal hope in material creatures or naturalist narratives that only offer hope for one brief mortal lifetime.

Science fiction is fantasy with a limp.

User comments:
jas edit delete reply
So that's why Harlan Ellison got so very miffed at Roddenberry over the changes Roddenberry made to his script/story. I had always wondered what the reason was. But understanding what I do, it makes perfect sense.
Hannah Rose Williams
I mean I don't have hard evidence for that, but it seems like the obvious explanation. Ellison also had some very mean things to say about the actress in that episode haha.