Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Science Fiction Resistance

The other night at dinner I was talking to my parents. These are two of the most supportive, open minded people around, just to establish that up front, but i still found myself launching into a long, fervent defensive explanation. This happens all the time actually. What was the point on which I had to explain yet again?
Why write science fiction and fantasy? Why not contemporary stuff? or plays? or drama? Why does it have to have magic in it?
I started with the usual, "It's what I love. It's what I'm good at etc." But i found myself, to my own suprise launching into a full scale defense of science fiction as a whole. I covered how it serves as a metaphor for social issues without being preachy, still being entertaining, and frankly, keeping people reading. Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek and the new Disctrict 9 are three fantastic examples of modern science fiction pushing itself to be socially relevant. Prison camps? The first on air inter-racial kiss? A gut wrenching look at how the human population treats immigrants? The metaphors are almost always clear, and yet no matter your point of view on the subject, people stick around and see the argument, because its presented in a way that is...well... cool.
In my latest story I talk a little bit about the "wierd kids, bullies, over use of psychiatric prescription drugs in young people, and parental sacrifice." I guarantee you a young person would be a million times more likely to finish a fantasy novel with those themes than to read the self help book, or a memior version.
America loves science fiction. Its just that not everyone is willing to admit it. Lost is one of the most popular shows on tv: totally science fiction. The biggest movies of last year? ALL science fiction. So why on earth when i say i write science fiction and fantasy, do I get wierd looks, and find myself explaining why that's what I write?
Any thoughts on Science Fiction Resistance? More importantly is this question: why do we write science fiction? As an artist we should always question our own work, even if the answer we land on is simply: "because its SO cool."

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