Science Fiction Exhibition Highlights AsianAmerican Contributions to the Genre

The world of science fiction has long dominated our pop culture landscape. From the intergalactic adventures found in Star Trek and Star Wars, to the mesmerizing futuristic landscape of Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking film Blade Runner, science fiction has captivated millions of people around the world for generations. But while the genre attracts a varied fan base, most of its prominent creators historically have fallen into one demographic – that of white men. [Inroads were recently made among comic book fans and beyond by the wildly popular Black Panther. See the MurthyBlog, Marvel’s Black Panther Once Fought His Own Battle with U.S. Immigration, 27 Mar 2018.] A new art exhibition at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle, WA, is hoping to broaden people’s perceptions of what a sci-fi creator can look like.

Worlds Beyond Here: The Expanding World of Science Fiction features a variety of science fiction themed creations by AsianAmericans. Exhibits include illustrations, large-scale installations, online games, and print media from science fiction writers. While the showcase features some well-known science fiction attractions, including a collection of fan artwork from JapaneseAmerican actor and Star Trek star, George Takei, contributors to the exhibit hope that it will expand perspectives on all that science fiction can offer audiences beyond popular television shows.

“A lot of people’s impressions of science fiction comes from Hollywood films, so they think it’s all about special effects and battles between good and evil that culminate in the hero and villain having a fist fight near a cliff,” explained ChineseAmerican science fiction author, Ted Chiang, to the Seattle Globalist. “That’s not what science fiction is really about, and I hope that exhibitions like this one can help correct some of those misconceptions.” Chiang and other artists featured in the showcase, such as Simon Kono, use the science fiction genre to explore complex subjects such as identity, immigration, technology, and the future of our planet. [See ‘Worlds Beyond Here’ Explores AsianAmerican Impact on Science Fiction, by Mayumi Tsutakawa, The Seattle Globalist, 17.Oct.2018.]

Kono, who is an illustrator for animation and video games, created for the exhibit a wall-sized mural of a sweeping Seattle landscape in a state of both utopia and dystopia. Kono explained to the Seattle Globalist that it depicts rising sea levels and threatened destruction of communities on the west coast, adding that “I think science fiction offers a reflection of where we are as a society at any given moment, and where we might be headed from there.” Exhibit developer, Mikala Woodward, concurred in a recent interview with Asian Weekly, adding that the new and diverse voices featured in the exhibit are imperative in keeping the science fiction genre energized and inspiring future generations of writers and artists. “As you go through the exhibit, you experience this alien space and this ‘Star Trek’ space … and these other kinds of immersive environments. And by the end of it, you are an empowered creator yourself.” [See Asian Science Fiction Show Packs Pow, Empowerment, by Andrew Hamlin, Asian Weekly, 2.Nov.2018]


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