“People think – wrongly – that speculative fiction is about predicting future, but it isn’t; or if it is, it tends to do a rotten job of it. (…) What speculative fiction is really good at is not the future but the present – taking an aspect of it that troubles or is dangerous, and extending and extrapolating that aspect into something that allows the people of that time to see what they are doing from a different angle and from a different place”. These words, written by Neil Gaiman, are in the preface to the science fiction book Fahrenheit 451. The author also comments on the power of questions such as “What if …”, “If only …” or “If this continues …” for developing a fictive and speculative thinking.
When presenting an alternate reality, science fiction leads us to confront our beliefs, and to understand how we build them and why. That exercise is a great ally of creativity. So much so that companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple hire science fiction writers as consultants, bringing new perspectives to paths often taken for granted.
In education, fiction books can also become great allies for working on creative thinking and the capacity for innovation. Its use need not be restricted to scientific teaching, but can provoke reflections on History, Philosophy, Arts, Social Sciences and other areas of human knowledge.
Encouraging students to read, question, and produce their own science-fiction stories can give them the freedom they need to get out of the obvious assumptions about the world around them and navigate new routes, arriving at unexpected, ground-breaking conclusions for day-to-day issues .