Will more liberals embrace sci-fi after the election? (A preposterous question, I know, but I’m just saying: what a difference a week can make. Or, put another way, time travel has never looked so good — and besides, I’ve always wanted a TARDIS).
To wit, Dana Goodyear, in “Talk of the Town” this week, reports on Robert Max Jackson, a professor of sociology at N.Y.U., who teaches:
a freshman honors seminar called “What If? The Art and Science of Imagining a Society That Never Was,” in which he poses a series of outlandish questions — what if we could live for hundreds of years? what if a device were invented that would tell you conclusively when someone was lying? — and assigns the science-fiction novels of Isaac Asimov and Ursula K. LeGuin. Jackson, who describes himself as “well left of liberal,” likes science fiction because it represents “an effort by someone to alter the rules of life and the social order and then to try to make it make sense.” . . .
Two weeks ago, when the possibility of an alternate, Bushless universe had not yet been extinguished, he encouraged the class to read several predictive studies of the polls. But, by the time Jackson’s seminar met last Wednesday, the question of “What if?” had drifted from what might yet be to what could have been, and some of his disappointed liberal students had decided that the class was meant to be “a political fantasy about the breakdown of government.”
Now may be the time to stop avoiding Mr. Maud’s bookshelf.