31 Days of Post (2) Day 18: The Trouble with Science Fiction

I’ve written a few times about my desire to write science fiction and the troubles I’ve encountered brainstorming ideas. I haven’t really discussed reading science fiction  as much as I should, but I find the same troubles plaguing me when I do read science fiction. And that is a bad thing. 

The problem is that I’m as caught up in pointing out scientific problems in science fiction as many other fans. I am a harsh critic. If there are plot holes, world building hiccups, or writer’s brain farts, I’m going to catch it and give hell for it. And truth be told, I’m far harsher towards science fiction than I am fantasy. Because I hold science fiction, even if it is fantasy, to a higher standard. 

And this high standard causes me problems as both reader and aspiring writer. As a reader, I’m too concerned with catching flaws to appreciate the work. And as a writer, I feel that I do not have the credentials needed to make a credible effort.

Is this stupid? Yes, yes it is. Many of the great science fiction writers have a strong foundation in science, if not having day jobs in the sciences. But not all of the greats have such strong grounding to include advanced degrees. Many great science fiction writers are as relatively ignorant of science as I am (that’s not to say I’m science illiterate, but I’m not at the level of a degree or even a passionate lay person). 

I’m, understandably, troubled by this tendency in myself as a reader. How can I enjoy a work if I’m obsessing over how dated it feels? How can I write a space opera or a cyberpunk story if I’m crippled by the fear of making a fool of myself?

(Maybe, as a writer, I should just stick to fantasy. I am, arguably, a fantasy idea machine).

But let’s, for a moment, extrapolate out from me to looking at science fiction as a fandom. I’m not the only sf fan who obsesses over these issues. And I’m not the only one likely to be crippled by these troubles. 

Is this tendency, increasing over the past few years, a good thing or a bad thing? Unfortunately, I don’t think it is a good thing. Largely because I fear this attitude shrinks the genre to a small die hard community that reinforces itself. And this, I think, partially explains why science fiction has lost popularity over the past decade or so, though science fiction is by no means dead. 

Whether this attitude is enduring or a momentary fade, hopefully science fiction will endure.


Posted on October 18, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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