Science Fiction Repair Shop: On Whitewashing The Future Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2013-12-29 15:00:00 No comments

Let the Future Be Whitewashed…Today! « The Hooded Utilitarian

... the reason that it is important to include diverse characters and diverse voices in speculative fiction would be because the assertion “we’re all in this together” is not, in fact, a pure, shining, unimpeachable truth, handed down by the gods of speculative fiction for our enlightenment. The statement “we’re all in this together” is, instead, an ideological presumption which is not supported by most of the extant facts.

I'd put it more this way: "we're all in this together" is a dormant truth, one which can emerge one of two ways: either as an evident fact of life, becuse we are all in fact in the same boat and pulling together; or as a grim specter, in which the connectivity of each to all is expressed despite this and not because of it.

There's more in the piece about the diversity of characters in SF, something I've made a stab at doing the right thing about in Flight of the Vajra, although whether or not I succeeded I'll leave to others to determine. I originally figured if we go far enough into the future, the human species will have become so malleable and protean in terms of its outward look that it won't matter much.

But then I realized — and I hope some of this made it into the book in a coherent way — that such things are only part of the picture, and that diversity of opinion and philosophy are at least as important if not more so. And why people hold such diverse POVs is yet another, further confounding, issue. I will say in my defense that I felt I at least got that part right.

What's more, I also realized — and this I suspect did come a little too late for it to do me much good — that any book I write about the future is always going to be written first and foremost for a present-time, present-day audience.

It comes off as slightly cold comfort to tell people that all these petty problems of race and creed will become irrelevant if we all just hold our breath long enough, because a) it isn't true (nothing ever came true just by waiting for it,  especially not a better future) and b) it means running the risk of losing all the hard-won perspective gained by those things. We study such abhorrences so that we might not reincarnate them in another form, even if we have a rather lousy track record of dodging that particular bullet.

It's OK for SF to make things up, but it's not OK for SF to tell blatant lies, and one of those lies is the idea that all our problems will somehow solve themselves through irrelevancy.

Tags: Flight of the Vajra Science Fiction Repair Shop futurism science fiction