In today’s random reading, I bump into Neil Gaiman’s explanation of why the Chinese Communist Party started encouraging young people to read science fiction and fantasy:
I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?
It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls [Neil Gaiman, “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming,” UK Guardian, 2013.10.15].
…and why Kristi Noem and the South Dakota Politburo are so dedicated to the proposition of focusing kids on work, not books:
Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different [Gaiman, 2013.10.15].
Bring a book to your next coffee break. A good book, about places you’ve never visited.