Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Writing Science Fiction

Charles Stross has posted on why he is shifting away from writing science fiction to writing urban fantasy. I found his reasons interesting, though I don't agree with him. I am trying to work back to something close to science fiction, though I am not sure my crooked bookkeeper octopus is scientific, even though they are amazing creatures. (This is a reference to a current story, which no one needs to understand.)

My take on writing SF is that science and technology are changing so quickly now -- and in so many ways -- that it's difficult to imagine the future. Stross mentions that FTL seems unlikely. Yes, but theoretical physics is in a really strange state right now, and I'm not sure anyone knows what is possible.

I heard Greg Ryman talk about the mundane SF movement a number of years ago. Among the ideas that he dismissed as unreal was nanotechnology, which was happening when I heard Ryman. It's real. Biotechnology is real. Robots are real. We don't know if AI will happen, but lots of people think it's possible.

The other problem with writing SF is climate change, which is happening right now, in the context of a political and economic system that does not seem able to act. How do we write about this? It's real. It's horrifying. It may foreclose our future. I could write really dark, dystopic YA science fiction, but I don't want to.

I am not much interested in urban fantasy or in dystopian YA. We (writers and people in general) need to find a way forward and an idea of what kind of future we want. I would like science fiction to work on this, though it won't be easy.