I was reading a big fat space opera the other day. You know the kind. You’ve already read about this future. It’s the clunky 1970’s future full of dead rocks, long haul shipping, out-of-control corporations, more-or-less traditional gender dynamics glossed over by the inclusion of some “strong female characters,” and, absurdly – smoking in space stations(!?).
When I went to the Clarion writing workshop back in 2000, I had an instructor tell me that one of my stories suffered from “a failure of the imagination.” If you take a real hard look at most SF/F, you can probably say the same thing. There’s a conservative, comfortable bulk of the genre that just keeps writing about the same future, and exploring the same past. There’s good reason for this. People like comfortable fiction. They like seeing their present reflected in the future. Most importantly, it sells well.
But it’s lazy writing.
For me, the most satisfying part of what I do as a storyteller is to interrogate the assumptions we have about what it means to be human. As spec fic writers, we have this fantastic canvas we totally cut up, rearrange, back over, throw mud at, or burn down on command. The world is literally a blank page, and all that limits what we put on that page is the narrowness of our own thoughts and expectations.Read More...