‘The Changes that Face Us’: Science Fiction as (Public) Legal Education
Much has been written on how science fiction allows us to interrogate imagined societal changes and potential yet-to-be realised futures. It also allows those who consume such texts to reflect upon their contemporaneous societies This paper refocuses this understanding of science fiction from an original and novel perspective, arguing that science fiction texts perform an educative function and can be considered a form of public legal education. To this end, this paper argues that science fiction performs a jurisprudential function in its treatment and popular presentation of legal issues and themes. Science fiction allows audiences and consumers to conceptualise abstract jurisprudential concepts, whether they are engaged with less interactive media (such as television or film) or experimenting more actively with these concepts via dynamic media (such as video games and tabletop role-playing games). This distinction between less interactive and more interactive media draws upon previous work by Newbery-Jones in 2015 that examined the jurisprudence of video games and the phenomenology of justice. It also focuses on science fiction’s potential to contribute to formal and public legal education. Finally, this paper explains the importance of public legal education in the twenty-first century and highlights science fiction’s critical role in encouraging engagement with jurisprudential themes and legal subject matter within the shifting sociopolitical landscape of the last decade.