Why Are We Here?

May 26th, 2006

Science fiction and fantasy, like the broad umbrella that is mysteries, performs in more areas than “escape” and “entertainment,” though we’re big on entertainment, too. SFF engages with ideas, and by “ideas” we intend a broader spectrum than nifty concepts like “what if faster-than-light drive really worked.

For instance, sf/f can so often perform a triangulation with history = past, present AND future. Yet so often the social conceptualization (political, cultural, administrative) has lagged behind the technical. Where does work fit in? How do other forms and elements of popular culture intersect with the way we integrate culture and ideas into fiction? Where does genre become life, or life become genre?

We’re looking to discuss this on all levels, from the practical concerns of authors writing fiction, to the interplay of life with art and art with life, to the ways in which the NFL can be used as a model for early medieval band warfare.

6 Responses to “Why Are We Here?”

  1. Sean Wrighton 20 Sep 2006 at 2:08 am

    Yep, I’d agree with that assessment. And I’d add sff can challenge, rock, and broaden the readers’ perceptions, to think about hitherto unconsidered possibilities.

  2. Ira Naymanon 29 May 2009 at 1:18 am

    I find that writing science fiction allows me to do many things. One of them that you didn’t mention was comment on something in the present that I wouldn’t feel comfortable about writing directly.

    An example might help clarify what I mean. I had been noticing that a lot of American right wing commentators had expressed sentiments ranging from “I hope the President fails” to incitements to violence and insurrection. I wondered what their reaction would be if some nutcase actually took them at their word and assassinated the President. However, I didn’t feel comfortable about writing a fictional scenario in which that happened (how would I feel if it did subsequently come to pass?).

    So, instead, I created the United States of Vespuccia and changed the names of the administration and the commentators (although many quotes of my fictional commentators were actually lifted from the commentators in our real world; this was the bridge between the fictional and real worlds). Treating it as science fiction allowed me to explore an unpleasant idea in a way that I was comfortable with.

  3. Kate Elliotton 11 Jun 2009 at 1:54 pm


    yes, I think we are mostly writing about the present no matter whether we’re writing about the past or the future, and science fiction and fantasy (and horror) allow us to take a step back but still examine our deepest hopes and fears.

  4. Rahima Warrenon 13 Jul 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Sff can be even more than entertainment or an exploration of ideas. As Kate says, it can help us explore our deepest hopes and fears, and, in my experience as a reader and writer of fantasy, even be a healing experience when written from our deepest truths.

  5. Thomason 08 Jun 2012 at 3:32 am

    Dear Kate.

    As a lover of science fiction, I would like to know your opinion on how far scientific sci-fi goes until it is sci-fi fantasy, as I write both.

    Writing about another world where the written word has not been invented. Is that sci-fi fantasy’?

    I believe scientific sci-fi is about some future society, where the world medical insurance firms are short of cash, and… Well, you can guess the rest.

    Is the short story 13 line critique offer still available? If not, is it okay if I ‘borrow’ your idea for our website where I am a moderator?


  6. dalholton 07 Oct 2012 at 10:13 am

    Wondering when Jo Clayton’s books will be selling on amazon’s kindle.
    Thank u

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