May 18 2020: I’m Mostly Over Science Fiction

May 18 2020: I was having a conversation with the other day and realized that I’m mostly over science fiction. There was a time when I would gravitate toward anything that was even vaguely SF. I’d select a bad TV show about space ships and robots over a good one about anything else. It’s not that I’ve suddenly turned my nose up sat it. Genre alone just isn’t enough of a motivator for me.

Science fiction works best when there’s some relevant observation being made about the present. I know, there are people who think you should keep “politics” and “social commentary” out of their escapist entertainment. Bully for them. There are plenty of books, shows, and movies for them to choose from. It’s a big, wide, weird old world, and there’s room for all tastes. That stuff isn’t mine, not any more.

I will read the hell out of David Mitchell, Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Stephenson, and others who straddle the line between mainstream fiction and SF. I absolutely love Westworld, even the muddled second season. There’s more going on than character bits and futuristic tropes about cool technology. The stories are about people, and the impact their world has on them. That’s what resonates with me.

I’m Mostly Over Science Fiction

I do think that the people who want to turn everything into a cultural battleground had something to do with putting me off the genre. The people who don’t want politics in their fun put me off the fun with their politics. Some of it is growing older, having changing tastes, and connecting more with deeper emotional content than speculation for its own sake.

Some of it, though, has to do with being able to stand where I am now and envision that future. I can, chillingly, see Westworld from here. That feels not only plausible, but relevant. I can no longer see Star Trek. It feels about as possible as Star Wars these days. The Cold War, which gave Trek a lot of its context, has been over for decades. It doesn’t resonate with me any more.

My work-in-progress, a modern day Gothic novel, has a dystopian feel to it. I’ve left off references that place it within any specific year, mainly to try to keep it from feeling dated, so it could take place in the future. I toyed with throwing in a few low-key cyberpunk elements, because there are parts that feel like early William Gibson.¬† In the end I decided that making the Gothic tropes was already enough work. Ultimate, I care more about writing a good book than one that tics the boxes for genre conventions.

May 18 2020

  • If you get anything out of these blog posts, consider buying me a coffee. You can also purchase one of my books or zines from Gumroad or DriveThruRPG.
  • I check all email and Twitter DMs, personal and professional, three times once a day. I respond¬† as time allows; if it requires some thought or research on my part, it will take me longer.
  • I am actively avoiding news and social media to focus on writing. Please take your information from reliable sources and certified experts, not the Mad Carrot and its puerile cultists.
  • Today is Day 63 in isolation.¬†

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7 Replies to “May 18 2020: I’m Mostly Over Science Fiction

  1. In reference to rejecting Pew Pew RPGs – Have a look at Shock (social Science Fiction), Unbound, Legacy, and anything by post-world games. I have been following a lot of development in character & relationship focused Rpgs and there is a lot that has ben done in the last few years and is currently being done.There is a lot beyond combat-focused trope-y RPGs.

    1. Kind of. It’s more like I’m over tropes for tropes’ sake. I’m having the same issues with TTRPG.

      THEM: Here’s a book of cool new spells and magic items! It’s so SHINY!

      ME: Yes but what are you trying to SAY about the human condition?!

      I am aware that the issue is me.

  2. “Science fiction works best when there’s some relevant observation being made about the present.” What the hell are people watching that isn’t? Buck Rogers? Maybe? the Syphilis channel’s heartbreaker gonna get canceled inside of a season flavor of the moment? Star Wars? Maybe? And, why is the hell is it that so many of the people complaining about politics in their favorite pop culture media are so often white dudes like me or older? You know what science fiction doesn’t have any room for? Fear of change. Avoiding a recently minted cliche that I know you hate, I’ll say what I actually always say in response to this, because it applies every god damned time, “human rights aren’t political. They are human. Rights.”

    Man, I don’t hate people, but people want to make it very difficult not to at least resent them some times.

    1. As with everything these days, it’s f’n entitled white guys all the way down. They apparently just want action-adventure stories with science fiction trappings. Pew pew! Alien babes! Cool robot designs!

      It’s not politics that they object to. They’re fine when something reflects their politics. Anything they don’t agree with is “pushing an agenda”.

      Everything is a zero-sum game to them, so giving other people rights (or representation, or a seat at the table) is interpreted as taking something away from them. It’s not pie.

      Again, they’re not thinky, book-cracking types by and large, so my retreat into literary fiction and classics is a safe space they likely won’t intrude upon.

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