Saturday, April 4, 2015

Quick Thoughts - Destroying Science Fiction

Some of you might have heard the good news: I'm going to be destroying Science Fiction! One of my flash fictions was picked up by Lightspeed Magazine's Queers Destroy Science Fiction. Go check out the Table of Contents for original fiction and see the full awesome of the project. I am so excited to be a part of this project. Also scared. And nervous. But very, very excited.

All right, self promotion aside, my thoughts today are focusing on the destruction of Science Fiction. It's an interesting idea, because on the one hand it seems completely ridiculous and on the other hand it seems completely necessary. Because to me, destroying science fiction is impossible. Science fiction is not an institution. It's a way of telling a story. Or maybe a collection of elements that make something science fictional. It changes. It is constantly changing. And it's any number of things. Science fiction exists in romance form, in action form, in near-future bio-thriller form, in a galaxy far, far away form. All are science fiction, even if not all of them are marketed or thought of as such. Science fiction is a way of looking at a story. But it's open, subjectively defined by the reader or writer of a text.

And yet, to some people there is definitely Science Fiction that can be destroyed. That is an institution. That is rigidly defined, objectively Real. That shouldn't  be changed. They task themselves with protecting it from outsiders, from what is decidedly not Science Fiction. And that is something that should be destroyed. Because many of those people have power, and leverage that power to try and invalidate other people's science fictions. They want to slap down anything that seems to them to fall outside their normative view of Science Fiction as an objective category. At the very least they want it defined as not Science Fiction. They want it subcategorized as soft, as light, as sci-fantasy or romance or something else. As Other.

It's...disappointing to see people argue that the genre is in need of saving. That it is being destroyed by those interested in a diversity of voices in science fiction. That it is being destroyed because tolerance of being a terrible person and writing awful stories is becoming less acceptable. There are many people, apparently, who believe that Science Fiction peaked in the great white, straight, cis-male past and is in need of rescue from the usurpers. That social justice has ruined it. That people are too politically correct. That people are scared lest the politically correct mobs descend on them and harass them and ruin their lives. Because the harassment is totally coming more from the social justice side of this.

And so in that case, yes, I am destroying Science Fiction. Or helping to. Or trying to help to. I am not, however, destroying science fiction. I have always been writing science fiction. Anyone who chooses to can write science fiction however they want. If they want two sentient sex toys to talk about their feelings on the goddamn Moon for five thousand or fifty thousand words, that is science fiction. Science fiction is amazing, is freeing, is exciting in its diversity and complexity. Science Fiction is bullshit and mainly used to try and reinforce shitty social and economic power structures that benefit the gatekeepers of Science Fiction. Not that works of Science Fiction aren't also science fiction. It's not the stories themselves that are shitty. It's the idea that any group should be able to control how science fiction is defined. That any group should be able to decide what is and isn't acceptable and valuable.

So let's burn this shit down. As someone with some serious problems with labels and assumptions of objectivity, I see that Science Fiction needs to be destroyed. I love, absolutely love, that there is a movement to do just that. Not to replace it with Science Fiction 2.0, but live up to a future without limit, a universe without borders, a science fiction with unbridled possibilities. To create a landscape where we don't feel the need to erect walls of Science Fiction to keep some people out and others in, but can be comfortable and safe writing and reading the stories we want to without someone telling us we're doing it wrong.

Anyway, that's my take on the whole destroying Science Fiction thing. I think. I hope. Thanks for reading.

All the best,

Charles Payseur

1 comment:

  1. Science fiction cannot be destroyed. The current material can deteriorate however and further corrupt the reputation of SF. But a lot of people who think they are smart never had a high opinion of it. Like Margaret Atwood who thinks Star Wars is science fiction.