One of my all time favorite novelists, Kazuo Ishiguro, has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. This could not be more well deserved. While there is much that can, and will, be said about his work in the coming days, what really stands out for me is the one foray he made into science fiction, his novel Never Let Me Go. This novel is what science fiction can be at its very best.
Science fiction is largely relegated to the genre wastelands for good reasons, most of the stories could be told on a pirate ship as easily as a space ship. Take the average SF story, turn back the clock from future to past, replace the new technology with old, change the costumes of the characters, and you’ll notice you are able to tell the exact same story. Now don’t get me wrong, space ships and ray guns are tons of fun, but you just can’t make a story new and original by merely changing the props.
The best SF stories have one key requirement, take away the science element and it becomes impossible to tell the story. This is what great science fiction is all about, using science to look at the human experience from a whole new perspective. This is what Ishiguro did in Never Let Me Go, he found the characters that would be most effected by the science, and focused intently in on their lives. He didn’t talk about the science, he brought the characters to life and let you draw your own conclusions. The novel is a tremendous achievement, and the movie it spawned is excellent too.