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
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- Today is Day 63 in isolation.