“There are three phrases that make possible the world of writing about the world of not-yet (you can call it science fiction or speculative fiction; you can call it anything you wish) and they are simple phrases:

What if … ?

If only …

If this goes on …

“What if … ?” gives us change, a departure from our lives. (What if aliens landed tomorrow and gave us everything we wanted, but at a price?)

“If only …” lets us explore the glories and dangers of tomorrow. (If only dogs could talk. If only I was invisible.)

“If this goes on…” is the most predictive of the three, although it doesn’t try to predict an actual future with all its messy confusion. Instead, “If this goes on…” fiction takes an element of life today, something clear and obvious and normally something troubling, and asks what would happen if that thing, that one thing, became bigger, became all-pervasive, changed the way we thought and behaved. (If this goes on, all communication everywhere will be through text messages or computers, and direct speech between two people, without a machine, will be outlawed.)

It’s a cautionary question, and it lets us explore cautionary worlds”

– Neil Gaiman,

“Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, and What Science Fiction Is and Does,” 

(Featured above is one of the illustrations Ralph Steadman created for the 50th anniversary edition of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451)