Television culture means that we often lack the depth to deal with ambiguity. The complexity of novels eludes our attention; we often prefer the truncated and clear narratives of sitcoms, where a plot line is fully resolved in forty-three minutes. The beauty of ambiguity, and of the blurred line between reality and divergent reality, is underrated.
Consider alternative mental states, including states of mental illness, which can often feel like occupying another universe. Functional people glide by on their electric Segways outside the space pod of your apartment. Meanwhile, you exist in another space: the world of couch and ennui, late-night TV, and mustering the courage to get out of bed. Your mind constructs this other space, which intersects with reality only at tangents. This construction mimics the world created in science fiction: an alternate universe only in your own mind.
Within one’s own mind—and within a character’s mind—only a psychologist or a reader (read: impartial third party) can determine where the boundary between reality and fiction “really lies”. But the true location of the boundary between mental illness and reality in science fiction is an unknown quantity, an ambiguity. What is real and what is, in fact, imagined?