It’s not surprising that immigration, migration, and the associated questions of belonging are rife in science fiction and fantasy. Maybe the most fundamental trope of the genre is travel to another world, whether through space, time, or alternate universes. Protagonists might travel for exploration or on desperate missions or crash land or fall through a portal and find themselves suddenly outsiders in an utterly strange place. Or they might be faced with immigrants—aliens, fae, time-travelers, off-shoots of humanity—in their own world. What makes it particularly potent is that often the reader experiences the disorientation and fascination of migration along with the character(s). Our process of figuring out the world-building mirrors the process of slowly learning about a new place, giving us an extra layer of identification and connection.
These stories in speculative fiction also give us a way to think about the challenges of migration and outsiders without being tied to specific examples in real life that readers might already have preconceptions about. (This can go badly wrong, of course, when fictional species are mapped onto stereotypes of IRL groups.) Readers can focus on the situation and potentially identify with characters they might see as irretrievably distant from themselves if they were given identities familiar from news reports or histories.