Science fiction wasn’t always the genre of blockbuster films. There used to be a time when it was a much-maligned genre of fiction, something no writer would pursue if they wanted to be taken seriously. Thankfully those days are over, and the San Francisco Public Library is devoting three entire months to a celebration of all things science fiction and fantasy.
SF by the Bay programming kicks off with an opening reception on Feb. 15. Catch a screening of a silent film from 1924 Soviet Russia called Aelita: Queen of Mars, with live piano accompaniment by Frederick Hodges. This plot is much what you’d expect: A young man, Los, travels to Mars, falls in love the planet’s queen and participates in a Martian workers’ revolt. (Picture all of the above with angular and wonderfully impractical constructivist sets and costumes.)
Other events of note during the three-month program include a panel of local black authors who write speculative fiction (Feb. 19), a costume contest (April 12), a live radio play (March 28) and even a book club conversation about Virginia Woolf’s gender-fluid, time-stretching 1928 novel Orlando (March 5).
Also of note, the homegrown podcast Our Opinions Are Correct, hosted by sci-fi authors Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders (a science journalist and science enthusiast, respectively) record an episode of their show live at the library on April 16. They promise to discuss the sci-fi’s "relevance to real-life science and society."
Science fiction stretches our imaginations to accommodate big, seemingly impossible ideas. It’s only by imagining other futures that we can start to bring about the one we want to inhabit. –Sarah Hotchkiss