Let science fiction be weird again

The genre has become technically accomplished, deeply serious, and utterly boring

Sci-fi art.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

When politics or the economy don't give much reason to celebrate, Americans turn to the screen. The 1930s demanded effervescent spectacles that kept us laughing through the Depression. The 1970s yielded a new kind of thriller that mirrored the paranoia of the post-Vietnam era. Recent decades have seen an explosion of science fiction and fantasy. With the audiences for adult drama shrinking, superheroes, spaceships, and monsters rule.

That shift helps explain the buzz about two releases this fall. Dune is the first installment of a third attempt at Frank Herbert's classic novel, which has already been filmed once as a feature and once as a TV miniseries. The Matrix Resurrections is the fourth installment in a franchise that helped kick off the trend.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Samuel Goldman

Samuel Goldman is a national correspondent at TheWeek.com. He is also an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, where he is executive director of the John L. Loeb, Jr. Institute for Religious Freedom and director of the Politics & Values Program. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard and was a postdoctoral fellow in Religion, Ethics, & Politics at Princeton University. His books include God's Country: Christian Zionism in America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and After Nationalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021). In addition to academic research, Goldman's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.