Thursday, September 17, 2009

Politics and Social Commentary in the Theme? Yup, especially science fiction and fantasy.

There was an interesting little bit of scuffle over on the Wyrdsmiths Blog. Science Fiction and Fantasy writer Kelly McCullough read about someone making a bigoted remark involving the GLBT community. This guy followed a train of logic he sincerely didn't seem to understand the offensive nature of. Kelly called him out on it. Shockingly a few folks seemed to get a little irritated that a blog about fantasy and science fiction writing would veer, ever so slightly into the political.
Ummm... What? I'm not sure I caught that.
Have people been paying ANY attention to the science fiction and fantasy they have been reading? (The answer is, of course YES, but apparently some people are missing it.) Just to clarify: "it's almost all a metaphor for societal issues." Just about everything has ties into topics of significance. It's not just cheep, diversionary, shallow, dribble. I'll admit it's good for a thrill, but all the good stuff ties in. Hell, even vampires are commentary on sex, fear of sex, and fear of spreading infection through sexual or taboo acts.
Theme is an incredibly important element to writing. Maybe the MOST important. Why do we love Harry Potter? Because everyone had to go to school, grow up, and deal with bullies, and get picked on by people and caught up in situations we felt powerless to alter . I argue that did more for it's success than prose, humor, character, or even magic stuff.
Next time you write a story try picking out the social themes it will parallel first, or close to the start, I've found it actually opens up a huge amount of good stuff with a little creativity.

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