Candle in the Darkness: Towards a more hopeful science fiction

I think it’s easy in this era to feel pretty down about things. The rampant destruction of our environment, both on a local and global scale is terrifying for most of us. The problems feel so monumental that we’re left feeling powerless to make any sort of meaningful change. This is where I’m at right now. When I see the news about the general insanity that our climate is beginning to kick up, I worry (legitimately) about the future. And there is nothing more disempowering than worrying about events that 1) you can’t control and 2) haven’t even happened yet.

From wikimedia commons user Henry Mühlpfordt
From wikimedia commons user Henry Mühlpfordt

But as fans and writers of science fiction, we’re always thinking about the future, right? Back in December, someone on twitter (sorry, can’t remember who) remarked that it’s kind of astounding that so few people are writing fiction that includes global climate change as part of the narrative. Or even the subtext. That comment got me thinking.

Do we feel so fucked by this that even science fiction writers shy away from it?

Are there no imaginings of the future that do not include dystopia as the final outcome? Why are we skipping over the part where we come up with solutions? Even if they are fantastical? I know this isn’t a new question, it’s been brought up quite a bit in the last year.

Over on the Apex blog (of which I’m a contributor), M. Asher Cantrell recently published a blog post about 3 Reasons Why It’s Time for a Rebirth of 1950’s Sci-Fi. While I’d disagree about returning to that particular era for its cultural baggage and sci-fi in particular from then for its lack of inclusiveness, I think I understand what he’s getting at. The sense of hope and optimism, that even monumental problems could be solved and that the future would be a wonderful thing. That’s what I’m missing.

So to his list of reasons, I’d like to add a fourth: now, more than ever, we need a sense of hope for the future. How many countless people became engaged in the sciences because of the portrayals by authors of what the future could be like? I’m not advocating a Pollyanna-ish, “gee, the future is swell” approach. But I would like to see clear-eyed gazes that assess and begin to tackle the problems. Because our best hope might not be coming from us, but from our children. And we need to offer some inspirational and aspirational ideas up.

From wikimedia commons user Bob Lee.
From wikimedia commons user Bob Lee.

Neal Stephenson has created the Project Hieroglyph online journal, to address the dearth of optimism. Check out that link, there’s some good stuff happening there.

As writers, we’re used to being pretty low on the ‘power in a hyper-capitalist economy’ scale. I can only point to a small handful of people who are capable of using their creative power to eke out a living, and even they have a hard time of it. But we do have an outsize power when it comes to influencing culture. We don’t just write novels and short stories, we write movies and TV shows. We script out video games, comic books. We have podcasts and speak in public. We’re a diverse bunch and what we say still resonates.

Let’s embrace the future.

Cultivating a list of Florida Scifi, Fantasy and Horror writers

Okay, I know that I said I was taking a break yesterday but I just need to get the ball rolling on this one small thing.

Yesterday someone asked me if I could connect them with any other science fiction, fantasy and horror writers in Florida who were on Twitter. I follow a couple and suggested them to him, but there were surprisingly fewer than I recalled having followed.

So I started cultivating a list, well two of them, actually.

One is for Florida SFF writers on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nmhall/florida-sff-writers

The other is for Florida SFF writers on Facebook (login required): https://www.facebook.com/lists/10101358334623588

Thusfar, they’re both little sparse BUT you can help change that! If you’re a writer who meets the below requirements, I’ll add you to the list:

  1. You live in Florida
  2. You write
  3. You write science fiction, fantasy, or horror
  4. You don’t spam the hell out of people or over-promote*

Just contact me via my contact form, Twitter or on Facebook and ask to be added to the list.

If you’re not a writer, but know someone who should be on the list, let me know about them.

Now back to my break…

 

*my discretion, sorry – basically, if I look at your Twitter feed and see a significant number of tweets promoting your work, I won’t include you. Don’t do that and everything will be great!

Morning Cuppa – 04/18/13 – Patton Oswalt! Bladelstar Runactica! Scifi in education!

 

  • Locus reports that Skyhorse/Start have acquired another small publication, Underland Press. As you’ll recall, Skyhorse is the company that is in talks to pick up Night Shade Books.
  • Blade Runner meets Battlestar Galactica? This is allegedly what AMC is working on developing right now with a show called Ballistic City. It’s about the seedy underbelly of a city that is housed within a galactic ship. I kind of shy away from projects that are described as one famous thing combined with another famous thing. It just feels like they haven’t bothered taking the time to properly configure the marketing for it, which leads me to wonder how much time they’ve taken on the show itself. Nevertheless, I’m willing to give it a shot.
  • In an age of rapidly defunded education, it’s nice to see that some folks are still fighting for the minds of future generations. West Virginia State House Representative Ray Canterbury (R) has introduced legislature that would require science fiction literature to be read  as part of the curricula in middle grade and high school classes to inspire more interest in math and the sciences. I don’t know anything about this guy but on this issue, he’s got my vote.