In science fiction, honesty > optimism

Ian Sales recently posted some thoughts with respect to the “optimism in sf” debate.

If it is possible to write optimistic science fiction, then it can only be by focusing on the quotidian, by writing fictions which are intensely personal, which look for small everyday victories, which ignore the big questions. Some might call that a failure of imagination.

Science fiction doesn’t need to be optimistic, it needs to be honest.

Hmmm. I’d hold up Jason Stoddard’s “Willpower” as an example of optimistic sf that ranges beyond the personal and doesn’t ignore the big questions – unless by “the big questions” you mean questions like “why do we exist”, and much as I like fiction that tackles heavy philosophy I can’t read it all the time.

That said, honesty in science fiction is something I could get behind. Nothing switches me off like an author shilling for an ideology…

One thought on “In science fiction, honesty > optimism”

  1. Paul, I agree. Shilling for any ideology — even those considered “correct” today — is propaganda.

    (And, I think, doomed to seem really, really quaint in a few years.)

    The first step any SF writer needs is to imagine futures which challenge their preconceived notions. Even if they’re absolutely, totally sure they know how the future is going to unfold.

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