Drug Use in Speculative Fiction

I think I’d just like to take a moment and share some thoughts on a trend I’ve noticed, not only in the books we’ve read and movies we’ve watched in class, but as well as books and films I’ve enjoyed in my own time. In some of the books we’ve read in class, there has been a theme of drug use. It was apparent in Black Hole, as well as in Black Mirror, and with less prominence, Kindred. I was inspired by a quote I read from the creator and co-writer of Black Mirror, Charlie Booker. In an article he writes regarding the show titled “The Dark Side of Our Gadget Addiction”, he states, “If technology is a drug—and it does feel like a drug—then what, precisely, are the side-effects? This area—between delight and discomfort—is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set.”

This is the quote that got me thinking about drugs in speculative fiction. Now, not all incorporate the use of drugs, but I had an interesting thought. I wonder if the prominence of drugs in speculative fiction is because it is one of the only tangible things that bring about the super and unreal in our reality that so often presents itself in speculative works. I can’t help but then think from there that drug use, and human reaction to such drugs, whether in traditional medicinal form or an object as Booker states, inspires at least some aspects of speculative works. To me, speculative fiction is a particularly impressive genre of literature due to the necessity of such intricate synthesis by its writers, whether that’s complete worlds such as in Left Hand of Darkness, or new societal structure as in The Handmaid’s Tale or V for Vendetta, or even introducing a new disease to modern society such as in Black Hole. The authors must originally synthesize all of these aspects, no matter their depth, and that creativity impresses me. That leads me to wonder, could drug use have a place in the inspiration of such fantastic elements that are incorporated into theses speculative works? So not only could it be incorporated in various ways in the fictional world, but could the fictional world itself arise from drug use as a source of inspiration?

Now I know it seems like I’m saying that all speculative fiction creators are drug users. That is not exactly what I wish to imply. I’m wishing to more so to comment on the fact that drugs could be something familiar in modern society that reader can use to rationalize some of the elements observed in works of speculative fiction, as well as used by creators as inspiration for the fantastic.