What do you think of when you hear the phrase “science fiction?” Robots? Time travel? Aliens? What about ‘realism?’ Not so much?
Most people don’t think that science fiction has much to say about reality. Science fiction is supposed to be about adventure and entertainment. It’s supposed to imagine futures that are far more advanced than our own, and to stretch modern science into something fantastic. Science fiction isn’t supposed to tell us anything about the actual state of things, right?
Well, this week, instead of picking just one book to feature, I have created a summer reading list comprised of twelve science fiction books that each depict the reality of one or more mental health conditions, sometimes even better than textbooks or realism. Whether it’s providing a nuanced depiction of addiction, exploring the complexities of violence, or exposing uncomfortable truths about pleasure and consumption; in these twelve examples, Sci-Fi is the best vessel for teaching us something about real life. It’s the time of the year when people are creating summer reading lists. If you want to keep things fun and exciting, while continuing to explore and better understand mental health issues, try these twelve science fiction books.
I couldn’t resist myself this week. I have been singing Cabaret showtunes ever since I saw Roundabout Theatre’s National Tour last weekend. Everything from ‘Willkommen,’ to ‘Mein Herr,’ to ‘Don’t Tell Mama’…I even re-wrote the lyrics to ‘Two Ladies’ so I could sing it around my kiddos. Now Anabelle joins in…”Deedlideelidee two babies! Deedlideelidee two babies! Deedlideelidee and I’m the only mom here!” Is that perverse? Re-constructing a song about a menage a trois to sing with my toddlers?
I don’t care! I love Cabaret. Not just any productions of Cabaret: It is THIS production of Cabaret that makes my dark little soul sing. Originally directed by Sam Mendes, the most recent Broadway revival of Cabaret, which is now touring the United states, perfectly captures the darkness, the decadence, the desperation, the sexiness of pre-WWII Berlin-and humanity. If there’s a stop near you left on the tour, you must see it. See it even if you don’t like the movie, which I will admit, I don’t much like myself. Keep reading to find out why this production is an absolute must-see that beats all the rest.
Even if you’ve never read American Gods by Neil Gaiman, you have probably at least heard the title. Maybe you’ve seen the new hit show on Starz. I haven’t, because I don’t have cable, and even while I was visiting my in-laws who do have cable, I didn’t get to see it because their package didn’t include Starz. Ah, well.
Though I haven’t seen the show, and though I do believe the hype and greatly look forward to it becoming available via my local library or Netflix, I know, without watching a minute of it, that it does not compare to the book. I know this because the novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman, who may be a god himself, is the greatest book ever written.
If that sounds extreme to you, then you’ve definitely never read it. Look, OK, everyone has their favorites. For a long time, my favorite book was 100 Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. For an even longer time, I couldn’t pick a favorite book because there are just so many amazing books in this world. I still adore 100 Years Of Solitude, and I still believe there are countless worthy books on this planet. But I have also crowned American Gods as the best. At least in my literary pantheon.