IO9 asks what issues SF should take onPosted by A. at 7:45 PM
Now that an Omega Man remake has made it big, the time is ripe for some 1970s-style "message" science fiction. We need more ripped-from-the-headlines science fictional stories that deal with the issues we're all freaking out about. But we need more than just parables about global warming and ebil corporations.
The choices are:
- Peak oil. (which Mundanes have been writing about and talking about for some time now, and Paolo Bacigalupi has even been winning awards doing it for some time.)
- Subprime foreclosures. (Hmm. Fair topic, but tough to do in an SF setting.)
- Refugees from genocide. (Too bad 'Pol Pot's beautiful daughter' was fantasy.)
- The global war on terror. (Actually, having even more heavy handed "message" stories about the Global War on Terror would be about as useful to me as having the ability to whistle out of my asshole. Lions for Lambs anyone?)
- Super-epidemics of drug-resistant organisms.
I'm actually in the middle of writing a short on the last one. Right now refugees from genocide seems to be leading the pack with super-epidemics following close. But honestly, this really gets to the heart about what this movement is about. Everyone seems to be focused on the Mundane Manifesto's call for limitations, and not so much on its call for relevance. You remember relevance, don't you guys? It's that stuff people experimented with a few decades ago, along with other crazy shit like drugs, love-ins, and the idea of science fiction being written for an audience bigger than ever-shrinking incestuous niche.
Pick up a newspaper, and you'll find that most of the things happening on the world stage---A crumbling healthcare system, climate change, nuclear proliferation, rising fuel prices, soaring food prices, depleting metal deposits around the world, an increasing capacity for government surveillance and the curtailing of civil liberties, the weaponization of space as 'the fist of globalization' as Tom Friedman put it, a neuroscience revolution that has more potential for social and ethical upheaval than at any time since Darwin, the increasing inequality between the richest and the poorest, control over the production of human embryos and the possibility of creating artificial life----looking around it seems that most of the issues of the day are, either centrally or in part, issues of science. And all the areas of science that are actually intersecting with and impacting people's lives just happen to be the areas of science that science fiction chooses to ignoring the most these days.
So for those of you still perplexed at what this whole Mundane thing is all about, or why some of us sound so angry all the time, maybe that helps enlighten our point of view. Science fiction is determined to only write about science when it has absolutely nothing to do with what's going on all around us.
Does anyone else see anything wrong or just a little bit negligent about this?
Does anyone else think that maybe there's something that SF does better than any other literary genre, that maybe being the literature of ideas that it has tools no one else does to confront these changes that are remaking the world?
Does anyone else think that as a genre, we can be doing a hell of a lot better?