Tag Archives: optimism

A new hope? Another call for positive science fiction

As an antidote to the previous doom-flavoured post, here’s recent Clarion alumni Damien G Walter suggesting that it’s time science fiction started taking a more hopeful and positive look at the future:

But there are no end of reasons to have hope for tomorrow. Biotechnology and genetic research offer fantastic advances in medicine, yet their portrayal in science fiction is typified by the gloom of Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. The internet is already democratising many new areas of society, but our political future is still most commonly depicted as one flavour of Big Brother dystopia or another. Environmental or economic collapse might plunge us all headlong into the apocalypic future of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, or we might respond to them with intelligence and ingenuity and take the opportunity to find better ways of living. To look at the infinite possibilities of the future and see only darkness is a failure of imagination.

Here, Walter echoes similar calls from Jason Stoddard and Jetse de Vries, and doubtless some others I’ve not noticed (or, just as likely, forgotten about); it definitely appears to be a theme with some of the young turks of science fiction writing. Are we witnessing the first stirrings of a new movement?

And what about the readers? OK, so the writers are bored of dystopic futures, but how many of us would like a little more optimism in our escapism?

Should science fiction short stories be more optimistic?

Make-it-happen-graffiti For obvious reasons, science fiction short stories are much on my mind at the moment. But it’s not just me – a long-standing feature of the science fiction scene, the sheer quantity of debate that the topic of short stories produces on a regular basis is an indicator that those who care about it care enough to speak their mind.

For example, our good friends over at SF Signal have a new iteration of their “Mind Meld” group interview articles in which they quiz various luminaries of the sf short story markets about the purpose of short fiction.

Leaving purpose aside for a moment by treating it as a given, what about tone? Regular readers here at Futurismic will be aware we try to take an optimist/realist attitude with our blogging topics – there’s no point ignoring the problems we face, but nor is there any point in descending into fatalism. It’s not constructive, and it’s not fun to read.

Jason Stoddard, who has had a number of stories published here at Futurismic (as well as numerous other markets), finds himself wishing for a similar attitude in science fiction short stories, and vows to walk the walk:

“I really, really think things will work out. Some of today’s writing is so dark that it makes me want to slit my wrists and slip into a warm tub. It might be technically excellent, and the characters may be fully rendered and real, but man oh man, it’s not what I want to read.

So take a look at the new tagline on this site: Strange and Happy. Consider this my new personal emblem, and a challenge to not only writers everywhere, but to the world in general.”

I’m a sucker for a dark setting – I saw Mad Max 2 at a very impressionable age – but it should be plain from my blogging here that I like to think we can work through the issues facing us. And after reading Stoddard’s post, I realised he has a point – there does seem to a shortage of optimistic science fiction. [Image by solidstate76]

Question is – is it just me and Stoddard and a few others? Or are you hungry for some science fictional optimism as well?