One of my favorite short story writers these days is Paolo Bacigalupi, who in a relatively short while has already wracked up 1 Sturgeon win and 2 Sturgeon nominations, 3 Hugo nominations, and 1 Nebula nomination despite having a hard to spell last name. Paolo is the second interview in the current issue of Locus, and something he said therein about the purpose of SF struck me just right:
"I feel like science fiction has been given this fantastic bazooka: we have tools that no other genre has, we have ways of talking about people and humanity - our fundamental qualities - that are just not available to most other genres. And yet we take this bazooka and shoot chipmunks with it, we shoot prairie dogs and squirrels, but we never go after the dinosaurs! We've got these amazing tools, and we use them for entertainments... My sense is that right now the role of science fiction is to calm and assuage people so they don't think about how bad shit is, but I don't write anything to make people feel good. I write to make people worry about the same things I worry about. The role of science fiction should be to bitch!"