May 22nd, 2012


The State of Science Fiction

So I read this article about the death of science fiction ... and it made me laugh.  

The genre isn't dying or stagnating.  It's just moving.  A lot of the really cool stuff is happening online, some of it in crowdfunding, some of it elsewhere.  This is the genre of innovation.  You can't really expect it to stand still.  If the part you're looking at is not moving, you're looking in the wrong place.

I'm not the only one looking at science articles and getting ideas out of them.  I'm also not the only one networking with an audience and getting awesome, unique, fascinating ideas that way.  It's just that the big houses are busy having a big collective panic attack and I'm really not into the farming of drama llamas.  I'll be over here writing until they find a paper bag and calm down.

I'm really happy that some of my newer series deal with science.  Lacquerware, that's really hard science fiction, just set in a different time and culture.  It's pure story-of-idea, which I almost never do; there aren't even any continuing characters.  It's all about how technology would turn out differently growing from Edo roots.  Kung Fu Robots uses hard science to explore philosophy and spirituality -- quintessential questions of identity and meaning, confonted by robots and the people who are working with them.  The Steamsmith is steampunk, and people generally think of that as fantasy; but pop the cover off that series and I am up to my elbow grease in atomic physics and biology and chemistry.  It's all about scientific method and principles, even though most of the answers are different.  Plus of course the soft sciences of sociology and such on top of the shiny gears and rivets.

For me, science fiction is about how and why as much as what if.  It's about what next.  It's about who we are, who we choose to be, who we become when we change the world according to our desires.  I never want to lose sight of the implications of science, because that way lies doom and disaster.  I like to think about these things, what they mean and where they're going, before we get there and maybe get into trouble.  Suppose we made sentient robots, what would we do with them?  Well, based on history, we'd probably make them slaves, soldiers, and/or whores.  But maybe some of us would at least try to make friends instead.  Maybe we'd think about right instead of just might.  Maybe we'd just think.

That's never going to get old, and so science fiction is never going to die.