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Restorative Science Fiction and Fantasy Storytelling

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

Transcending the daily challenges of life can restore the mind. Science fiction and fantasy stories propel us into new and different worlds. Writers concentrate on detailed worldbuilding to spark our imagination. The worlds they create are not just fictional, but visionary. Often worlds are places we could not have experienced before. It is impossible to research an imaginary world’s history, laws, or fashion trends, as they are purely made up. Being immersed into a uniquely crafted world we are free to learn and imagine as the story unfolds. Consider Star Wars, Dune, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, or The Wizard of Oz. Instantly, we can visualize creative worlds with fantastic stories.

Characters in science fiction and fantasy stories can be human as well as non-human. Humans interact with a variety of non-humans including extraterrestrials, robots, and intelligent computers. In fantasy stories, non-human characters often include dragons, fairies, wizards, orcs, and other creatures. Through the eyes of these uniquely crafted characters, you can see their struggles through a new set of lenses. You can feel their challenges, learn their societal rules, and face their problems.

As a child, I was captivated by the American television series, Lost in Space, where the Robinson family and their crew set off on a pioneering journey to find and colonize an Earth-like planet near the star Alpha Centauri. The stories woven among the characters, the Robinson parent scientists, their curious kids, the ship’s menacing doctor, the intellectual yet sensitive robot, and the many extraterrestrials were eye-opening. They fully captured my imagination. I am happy this series has recently been remade.

Science fiction stories employ innovative technology to help characters accomplish goals. If the story is intergalactic, writers use warp speed travel and time portals to enable characters to travel faster than light. Otherwise, the story would be too lengthy and difficult to follow. These technologies help us to suspend disbelief and imagine extraterrestrials on other planets, though the science may not be proven. Audiences can engage with the characters as they journey through creative worlds.

Science fiction stories offer a break from reality. Star Trek Discovery takes place in a world ten years before the original Star Trek series. However, the starship Discovery’s propulsion uses more advanced technology than the original series. The ship’s medical team uses patient care technology that is out of this world. Star Trek Discovery challenges its audience with obstacles to overcome and missions to complete against great odds. It demonstrates the finest teamwork to achieve the highest goals.

Fantasy stories are also set in unreal worlds and inspire creative thinking. Writers transfer us to different worlds with new challenges, rules, and outcomes. Magic, spells, charms, enchantments, and potions are some of the techniques used to suspend disbelief. Years ago, I enjoyed reading The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, a high fantasy story that captured my imagination. I was easily lost in the beautiful world of Middle-earth, its men, elves, dwarves, ents, and hobbits and the monsters they faced. I could almost hear the hobbits and dwarves as they sang on their journey. Their song lyrics are catchy and heartening. The unceremonious manner in which Gandalf, a wizard, and his dwarves introduce themselves to Bilbo Baggins at his hobbit home in Bag End, and Bilbo’s response captivated me. The challenging journey to the Misty Mountains to regain their stolen legacy is gripping and memorable.

Recent fiction storytelling trends show that readers want to escape reality for more optimistic times. In The Martian, a starship establishes a Mars base to perform important scientific research. A crew member out on a mission is thought to be dead due to a powerful advancing storm. For safety, the spaceship and crew are forced to depart quickly to Earth without him. Once all realize later that he survived the storm, NASA and international scientists cooperate to try to rescue him.

In many cases, science fiction and fantasy stories are set in creative imaginary worlds that offer a chance for hope and change. They activate our minds to visualize new worlds with unique characters. We are led to analyze their societies and challenges. We forget our daily pressures, for a time, and escape to another world as problems are solved. We are made to wonder about the future and all that it could hold. Science fiction and fantasy storytelling help us detach from stress and restore our minds in a creative and hopeful way.

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