Science Fiction = "Yes We Can!"

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“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our Founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.” – Barack Obama

Okay, so this isn’t really a political blog, it’s a sci-fi blog. And I’m not interested in arguing issues with anybody right now. But it occurred to me last night that part of what appeals to me about science fiction is seeing realized, even if only on paper or on a movie or TV screen, amazing things that I might never hope to see in my lifetime. And that it’s silly to ever say never.

A century ago, the Wright brothers had just figured out how to get a rickety one-man plane off the ground. The notion that millions of people each year might fly across the world every day in huge metal tubes … or that an airplane might fly faster than the speed of sound … or that something like an airplane might actually leave the Earth’s atmosphere and carry a man to the surface of the moon … these were pretty much considered ludicrous — the realm of science fiction.

We’ve all seen black Presidents, of course. In 1997, Tiny Lister played President Lindberg in The Fifth Element. In 1998, Morgan Freeman played President Tom Beck in Deep Impact. And more recently, Dennis Haysbert played President David Palmer on the hit TV series 24, which, let’s face it, is pretty much sci-fi. But to be honest, as I watched each of those portrayals, I considered: 1) how cool it was that the director had made the casting choice, just as I do every time I see a female president in a movie or TV show; and 2) how unlikely it was to ever come true. Call it outright cynicism. But frankly, the fearful behaviors and attitudes of many Americans since 9/11 has worn me down, to the point that I thought such a possibility was still decades away yet.

And then last night had to go and happen. An electoral landslide. Go figure.

“A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.” – John McCain’s concession speech

“Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old. She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons, because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin. And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America: the heartache and the hope, the struggle and the progress, the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed … yes we can.” – Barack Obama’s victory speech

Welcome to the future, my fellow Americans. It took you long enough.