We Come in Peace
As a science fiction writer, I’ve found that my genre is not exactly the most popular… Most agents won’t represent it. Few people read it. There were stand-out authors for sci-fi, of course. George Lucas and Orson Scott Card come to mind. They threw us into a future of politics, aliens, and of course science. Sub-genres have cropped up: steampunk, post-apocalyptic, genetic and mechanical mutation. Movies have seen a burst in the science-fiction scene. Avatar has passed the 700 billion dollar mark. Star Trek was another obvious sci-fi pick for the year.
Still, the science-fiction scene seems to be lagging. There are books published, definitely, but they seem to be obscure and in the background. They are the books that get skimmed over in favor of angels and demons and vampires and werewolves. They are misunderstood. I was talking to a friend yesterday and she mentioned that she was surprised that I would write science fiction. It seems that America in general (or at least the America I have befriended) has a misguided view of my most favorite genre.
First! (Let’s get this out of the way, guys.) Science fiction DOES NOT, I repeat DOES NOT, need to have aliens. We aren’t reliving Roswell, guys. We’re not all conspiracy theorists or UFO enthusiasts (although some of us are.) Science fiction is so much more than space ships and green-eyed midgets. 10-foot tall blue aliens, however…
Second! (Kinda…it’s more “first and a half…) The foundation of the genre is the science. For example, post-apocalyptic science-fiction focuses on how the world is affected after disaster. It delves into biological warfare, genetic mutations, and global affects. One of my favorite new authors and close friend just finished a book set in this time and it couldn’t be farther from the cliche. Science provides the stability for the work. Fantasy plays upon the imagination and on that little voice in your head that wonders what monster makes your house creak. (I am still a faithful believer that there is a troll in my attic. He’s a little lighter than Holly Black’s troll, but he’s up there…) Science fiction builds upon the imagination as well, but in a different direction. It plays more on the possibility of “what if.” What if the world ended? What if we had never discovered electricity? What if we could time-travel? What if aliens existed? (Yes I said it. Aliens.) What if genetics and global warming and asteroids got out of control? Ok, not so much the asteroids, but still. See how much science-fiction you already watch and read?
No? Ok, since movies tend to be a little easier to recognize (and too many people have abandoned the beloved book), I’ll list some of the current ones. The Time Traveler’s Wife. Jumper. The Book of Eli. Avatar (really, if you didn’t catch that one…). Star Trek (again…). Repo Men. Surrogates. Gamer. iRobot. 2012. See? You didn’t even realize you were watching sci-fi!
Now then, since you have been enlightened, go forth and prosper! Uh… I mean, go and buy more science fiction. Dare to read what you’ve never read before. Let your science fiction book sit proudly on your desk, not hidden beneath behind the cover of Cosmo. Dare to be a nerd. Let your mind traverse the what-ifs. And, once you have finished, let me know what you thought about the wonderful world of science fiction.