I was recently in conversation with a person who questioned reading science fiction. They asked a simple question “none of it is real, so why bother with it?” As a science fiction writer and reader, I naturally wanted to defend science fiction. My first impulse was to highlight sci fi classics that act as warnings, like 1984, which has become more relevant as legitimately elected leaders seek to overthrow democracy.
But, the person in question, knows full well the dangers of totalitarianism, and has come to that conclusion without reading science fiction. I also wouldn’t make a sci fi fan out of a person who isn’t. As a writer, I’m fully aware people enjoy reading books they enjoy and there is very little that will convince them otherwise. I’d be wasting my time showing up to cozy romance book clubs ready to talk sci fi.
However, the question, “why science fiction?” has stayed with me since that conversation and I ruminate on science fiction’s purpose as a genre. Why is it exciting to read about something that isn’t real, and in some cases, could never be real without some serious laws of physics rewriting?
Yet, somehow, when I read a book with a sufficiently cool space battle or a moral dilemma the characters are grappling with for a completely fictitious alien race, I get goose bumps. Seriously? What sway does science fiction have over me, that most of my books either fall in that genre or have elements of it?
I could go back to when I was a kid and it was exciting to read books about anywhere but the suburbs of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Or I can think about the first time I seriously thought deeply about an issue when I read Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide. Those two books really got me thinking about the ethics of destroying an entire planet.
I think for myself, the answer to the question of “why science fiction?” is simply because I enjoy thought experiments and thinking about the future. The fact that it is not real is its strength as a genre. The Hunger Games allows us to watch blood sport, without actually having a real event where people kill each other every year (which would be awful). 1984 puts us in the clutches of a terrible government without having to experience it ourselves. Card’s Ender’s series allows us to think about genocide without the horrors of genocide in real life.
While it may not be real, the consequences of certain ideologies portrayed in science fiction are real. Science Fiction is a way to experiment with the world without the events in the story happening. So, yes, it’s not real, but that’s its strength. How else can an better future be envisioned, then through futures we want to avoid (Hunger Games) and futures that we would want (Star Trek)?
With that being said, the third Teristaque Novel will be out soon. There will be a couple of ways you can get a copy of it. The first way is to support me on Patreon, and you’ll get an early digital copy, (the print copies take longer and may not be early). You can also get a signed copy where I’ll write a message and send it to you. You’ll need to get it on Patreon before the 25th of January.
The second way to get it, is on release day February 14th, 2023. If you plan to get a copy, then I ask you: wait till the first week its out. The more people who purchase it during that week, the bigger the boost will be, the more likely others will discover it, and the higher probability that I do this full time and write more books. It’s a win for everyone.