Espace Presse – Thinking about the future through SF

How to describe what science fiction is?

Roland Lehoucq : There are so many subgenres in science fiction (SF) that it’s hard to define. The person I love takes on aspectspolitical and social anticipationone that from a scientific framework manages to draw civilizing consequences that give rise to reflection on the interaction between science, technology and human groups.

Sylvie Laine : What SF says is that the slightest change in a technology, in an environment, or in our biology immediately transforms interpersonal relationships and society. This leads us to think differently about ethics and values. It also allows us to put into perspective what might be perceived as irreversible. Personally, if it did not exist, it would have been much more fatalistic, with the impression that we are closed in the inevitable future. With so many different trajectories, SF makes you want to act.

Roland Lehoucq : Yes! SF takes us out
There is no alternative because it shows that there are many alternatives. This means that there is no apocalypse on the one hand, paradise on the other. SF is not binary, it builds a very inspiring repertoire of possibilities. It’s a breeding ground for reflection, as Sylvie says. Some also say that SF is a social thought experiment. Because you can’t do practical social experiments, like locking ten people in a box! The box then becomes the spacecraft that will reach its destination in 200 years. How is the community organized on board? SF allows you to address different issues, whether practical or psychological.

What is the relationship between SF and science?

Roland Lehoucq : have a rest joa science in which it is a rational anticipation. The context it narrates is logical and material and places human beings in situations that could not be given without a technical object, certainly sometimes imaginary. This object may go beyond the state of the art of science, but the purpose of the SF, which is primarily an art, is not to make it progress. Precisely, drink from the repository of eccentric or experimental ideas, prototypes, things where ideas are full! For example, the current SF no longer includes selenites because today we know that there are no living things on the moon. “expels” what is meant keep only vague, somewhat mysterious scientific things, vectors of imagination.

Sylvie Laine : Like Roland, I’m not sure SF contributes much to scientific advances. On the other hand, SF authors, scientists or not, have in common that they love science. When you pursue a scientific career, you are very limited by the processes of publishing, seeking funding, and so on. And the best way I know to keep science fun is to read or write science fiction.. Because we have an unlimited playground, where the audacity of the hypotheses we can test is limited only by our imagination. But once launched, we have to play seriously with them. This is also what the reader expects, that the author will take his game very seriously. Let him put all his intelligence, his passion, his emotion and also his rigor into it, but his story is not credible and he will not be able to wake up. an immersion in the imagination, this letting go of the possibilities.

Does SF bring hope?

Roland Lehoucq : In my opinion, no SF is really happy. The vision of the future is always a bit dark and pessimistic there, and it is certainly more interesting to create apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic stories. But after all, the apocalypse is the promise of a different future. Everything has been destroyed, so this leaves hope for a new beginning. We will delete everything and start over! In the case of the post-apocalyptic, it is a matter of making a clean sweep of the past, which it also leaves the possibility of building a different future.

Sylvie Laine : In addition, the fact of being able to have life trajectories and positive personal stories, in universes darker than ours, is in itself a message of hope. And it is not because our comfort has deteriorated that we could not live interesting experiences, on the contrary! It is very pleasing to have visions that go against the recurring messages that reducing our energy consumption and overall consumption would be a calamity. SF is too a way of saying that thewe can live by enriching things without destroying our environment. Just as she is capable of great humor, with a very peculiar look at the absurdities of our world that can even make you happy. It may be a perverse joy, but it is one that I experience sometimes!

Can it be a tangible, albeit imaginary, framework for appropriating and projecting oneself on big issues?

Roland Lehoucq : Yes, SF allows you to project yourself into possible futures. Let’s take the example of the RTE report scenarios on future energy combinations for 2050. These scenarios are not intended to occur, but allow us to educate our mind. They are made by engineers, in a global, technical and reasoned way. Corn how to share them with the general public? What is interesting is that SF allows you to create a story by staging in this framework of projections, not a power grid, but human. And so we can identify, on the individual scale of ethos and pathos: for example, What changes a mix of 100% renewable energy in my daily life, how does my life evolve in this context?, etc ? It is in this approach that we have produced a collective work, Our futures. We have invited experts (in natural sciences or humanities) and SF authors around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Sylvie was part of the adventure the question of the place of women in the management of the world.

Sylvie Laine : Yes, I loved this collaborative experience on an imposed topic. I am currently working on a short story commissioned by Futura magazine about gene therapy. I ask the question of the acceptability and credibility of scientific discourse, a bit like what the film questions Don’t look up: cosmic negation ! Specifically, and this is a topical question: in what terms should a physician express himself to convince his most reluctant and concerned patients? Is scientific discourse always acceptable, for everyone and in all circumstances? Perhaps this discourse is frightening, which is understood as inevitable because it is indisputable. Exactly SF reconciles us with science because it tells us that we have the right to discuss it, to ask naughty questions.. Science is not a sacred word but a questionable one, and that is part of its definition.

Roland Lehoucq : Returning to the film you cite, it was seen 150 million times in the second week of its release in late December 2021, far exceeding the reach of people discussing the global warming. This shows the shocking power of imagination, film and science fiction as they create mental images, combining reason and emotion.

An article taken from CEA Challenges No. 247 of January / February 2022.

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