Science fiction really isn't about the future; it's about the present, which concerns SF writers as much as it does anyone else. SF's much reviled "escapist genre rubbish" is in fact a rich and varied field of fiction. It gives a writer more freedom to explore ideas as well as experiment with style than any other literary form. The best SF, truly "mind-bending", holding a fun-house mirror to our reality, warping the reader's fixed perceptions about society, and giving them a fresh and liberating parallax view.
Some people have called SF "modern mythology", because it clothes the universal themes of myth into "modern dress". Throughout the ages, stories with certain basic themes have recurred over and over, in widely disparate cultures; emerging like the goddess Venus from the sea of our unconscious. Each time, storytellers clothed the naked body of myth in their own traditions, so that listeners could relate more easily to its deeper meaning. For us, the "clothing" is high-tech, while the resonance it somehow creates in the dephts of our soul affirms our relationship with countless generations before us, and the universal bond of our common humanity today. Those subliminal messages reassure and guide us as we struggle to deal with ever-increasing rates of change and complexity in our modern world.
Joan D. Vinge, The Snow Queen (1980), Warner Books, Reading Group Guide: A Conversation With Joan D. Vinge