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How do people combine science fiction and music to help us envision futures?

Throughout history, musicians and artists have used science fiction (as well as fantasy, speculative, and visionary fiction) to imagine worlds beyond this one, often based on elements of our current world but reconstructed for multiple possibilities.

Think About

  • How do people use science fiction and music to imagine the future?
  • How can songwriting and music making help us approach common topics from new angles?
  • What role can music play in helping people envision futures?
  • What makes combining music and science fiction “work?” 

Get Started

Listen to the following examples of science fiction art

As you observe each example think about your answers to the following questions:

  • What stands out to you about this example?
  • What kind of the future is the music describing?
  • Is this alternate world dystopic (very bad), utopic (ideal/very good), or some combination of both?

Example 1: Space is the Place – Sun Ra

Sun Ra is legendary for creating experimental jazz inspired by his musical visions of African space travel and traveling to other galaxies to create safehavens from the racism on planet earth. “Space is the Place” is a prime example of this unique creative conceptual approach.

Example 2: 22nd Century – Nina Simone

Nina Simone’s “22nd Century” is her warning of what could come if 20th century injustices continue into the 22nd century.

Example 3: Apple Orchards – Complex Movements

Complex Movements created the mutimedia music and performance installation project Beware of the Dandelions to imagine the current conditions in Detroit within a science fiction story world inspired by Octavia Butler’s books Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. This piece Apple Orchards is the theme song of the project.

  1. Answer these reflective questions based on your experiences with each of the examples above:
  • What stands out to you about each example?
  • What kind of future is each musical example describing?
  • Is this alternate world dystopic (very bad), utopic (ideal/very good), or some combination of both?
  • What are your general reactions to the idea of combining science fiction and music to envision futures?
  • How do these examples relate or compare to the music and science fiction project that you created?

Share What you Learned


  • Post a written response or video selfie that answers the reflective questions

Next Steps


Return to the XP: How can science fiction music help us envision futures?


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