Politician Proposes Mandatory Sci-Fi In Schools

Dusten Carlson

Forget the battle between creationism and evolution in public schools, what about the battle for more science fiction in your English class?

That's exactly what one West Virginia Republican is proposing: A bill that would make sci-fi novels required reading in the schools there, breeding an entire new generation of nerds.

Why? Because by reading science fiction, delegate Ray Canterbury is hoping that students will be inspired to take their math and science more seriously.

"To stimulate interest in math and science among students in the public schools of this state, the State Board of Education shall prescribe minimum standards by which samples of grade-appropriate science fiction literature are integrated into the curriculum of existing reading, literature or other required courses for middle school and high school students," reads Canterbury's proposed bill.

Canterbury himself is a fan of the old school classics: The real "thinking man's" sci-fi from the likes of Isaac Asimov and Jules Verne.

"I'm not interested in fantasy novels about dragons," he told Blastr in an interview. Instead, Canterbury wants sci-fi novels which showcase advanced technology "both in terms of the problems that it presents and the solutions that it offers."

So far, many science fiction authors have praised Canterbury's proposal. Scientist and author David Brin (The Postman) has fought long and hard to get educators to see the literary value in the genre, remarking that it's "wonderful to live in a country where politicians can raise this possibility."

Author and critic James Gunn said that Canterbury's proposal "sounds like an enlightened idea."

The fight to recognize the literary merits of science fiction are about as old as the genre itself. Even celebrated author Kurt Vonnegut struggled with it throughout his career, once saying:

"I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled 'science fiction' ever since, and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal."

What do you think? Should schools embrace science fiction?

[Image via: David Revoy / Blender Foundation]