Science Fiction Repair Shop: Clean the Slate Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2013-05-28 17:00:00 No comments

Is There A New New Wave of Science Fiction, And Do We Need One Anyway? |

... right now if you ask me about science fiction I’d suggest it was burnt down to the ground. Nuked back to year zero so we can all start again. It’s just, largely, lost its way. It's stopped being about ideas, the present or even the future and has just become another slack-jawed asset of the escapist entertainment industry.

Such are the words of SF author Tim Maughan, and I think I agree with him — and with Michael Moorcock, also quoted in the piece:

... our day-to-day world has in lots of key ways become science-fictional. No, we didn’t get personal jetpacks, but we’ve got the internet and mobile phones. How do we write about this? The realistic novel in its strictest sense doesn’t seem equal to the task, but nor funnily enough does science fiction. Solution? As ever, think about stuff, then try stuff, see what works.

That's more or less the approach I've been advocating: get SF and straight-fic (so to speak) to teach each other the right lessons. Get the former to pay a little more attention to human beings as they actually are; get the latter to give more cred to the way things could be. Get a little ecumenical accord going, willya?

I am leery, however, of creating a formal program out of these impulses, something to describe as a Movement with a list of undersigned and a slogan in Latin on the letterhead. That might just be a reflection of my reflexive resistance to sticking a hard-and-fast label onto things, since the minute you label something it stops becoming a living thing and becomes just another category into which you can consign (or discard) other things.

The ideal cure for SF and litfic's mutual hardening of the arteries does not seem to be  a specific set of directives, but rather "votes cast in the form of individual books," as Dale Peck put it in his own essay on a similar problem. No one book alone will remake SF, or literature, but each one in its own way can point a bit further up the road we need to be walking.

Tags: Science Fiction Repair Shop science fiction