I’ve come to a realization.

I really, really, really want to write about science fiction.

I mean, really.

It’s funny, because I don’t think genre is the most important thing about fiction. I’m willing to read, honestly, just about anything. I think it would be great if it were easier for authors to write in more than one genre without publishers scrambling to figure out how they’re going to market a new text separately from the established genre that particular writer is “supposed” to work in. I think it would be great if people quit shoving science fiction and fantasy into this man-made “sci-fi ghetto” so it can’t interact with “normal, respectable literature (/people)”.

As a consolation, at least our “ghetto” is vibrant and creative and user-driven — not unlike Christiania, the famed hippie neighborhood/micronation in the center of Copenhagen, only without all the anarchism and marijuana.

And even they find room for fantasy in their art.

But still, even though I don’t fall for the notion that certain genres are inherently better or worse than others, there is one bit of truth to it on a personal level: some genres speak more to particular people than others do. And I just happen to be a person who is drawn to science fiction.

There are many, many definitions of science fiction. As many, perhaps, as there are people who are aware of the term “science fiction”. Common ones address the themes of scientific and technological advancement, and usually throw in some references to the future or aliens or space travel. These certainly appear frequently in science fiction, and I’d be lying if I said that I don’t greatly enjoy many stories that rely heavily on these topics, but I don’t see them as the end-all definition of what science fiction is and can be.

Science fiction — like its twin sister, Fantasy — is, at its best, an exploration of what humanity is really about. And while I’m aware that the same could be said about literature in general, I think science fiction gives us the opportunity to look at it from angles unavailable from an ordinary vantage point. What makes us still human, science fiction asks, when we are pulled out of our familiar context? If this thing or that thing were in some way different, what might it have changed? It seeks to pull humanity out of the known and into the unknown, and then see what happens.

In deciding on a central topic about which to orient my writing, I quickly discovered that I couldn’t go without addressing religion and spirituality. That decision has not changed. I have, however, come to the additional realization that the role of fiction, and especially that of science fiction, is just as important to my overall worldview and literary background. I should have realized this sooner: if you visit my archive and go to my first published post, you’ll find something that I wrote with spirituality in mind; and if you go to the second post, you’ll find something I wrote after watching a particularly moving episode of one of my favorite sci-fi shows. So yes, there they are, scripture and space opera cooperating with my creative psyche right from the start. And that’s not even addressing the other essay from which I pulled the phrase “scripture and space opera”.

Considering the never-ending (and, in my opinion, inane) arguments about various incompatibilities between faith and science, to some it might seem like an odd combination. In fact, I hope to address that in full in another post. But I’ve written a lot for one go, and for now I think a small preview would suffice:

In Norse Mythology, the world started with Muspellsheimr, a great realm of fire, and Niflheimr, a great realm of ice. Between them stretched a great void called the Ginnungagap. But instead of destroying one another, fire and ice mixed until out of the resulting water sprang life.

And with that I think I’ve also proven, once and for all, how much I’m always, always thinking about Scandinavia.

(image sources: Orion Nebula © NASA; Christiania mural from Wikimedia Commons)

5 thoughts on “I’ve come to a realization.

  1. “how they’re going to market a new text separately from the established genre that particular writer is “supposed” to work in” — no, not always (at all!) . Look at Karen Russell, she was shortlisted for the Pulizter for fiction and but many of her short stories have SF elements, including the recent Sleep Donation is VERY SF. And, it wasn’t marketed in any other way than her earlier work!

    • That’s true, there are certainly exceptions. In fact, I can think of a lot of exceptions among British authors! But I have also read several interviews or books from American science fiction authors (for example, Orson Scott Card) who have found it very difficult to publish outside of the “science fiction/fantasy” section once they are in it. Also, I don’t know anything about Karen Russell’s work, but there are many books that have “SF elements” (e.g. Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go) that are published outside of the SF section without a problem, depending on how much they have an “SF feel” to them and what else the author is known for. It all depends, really. I admit to occasionally using hyperbole.

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