Guest Post: Anne E. Johnson - Why Sci Fi?
Why Sci Fi?
I thought it would be easy to write about my choice to become a science fiction novelist. After all, I’ve been a fan of science fiction novels, short stories, movies, and TV shows for decades. But explaining why science fiction holds such an appeal for me is harder than I expected. Of course, there are all the usual responses to “Why do I like science fiction,” but none quite covers it adequately.
Science fiction does allow for a welcome element of hope. Humanity is pretty screwed up in many ways, and it’s wonderful to imagine there are other creatures out there who have a truly healthy concept of civilization and society. But, seriously, how many science fiction stories are about well-adjusted species? No, we prefer to read about creatures just as messed up as we are. So that can’t be it.
In the introduction to a recent edition of her masterful novel The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin says, “Science fiction is metaphor...If I could have said it non-metaphorically, I would not have written all these words, this novel.” Okay, I can buy that. Shall we say, science fiction is a more poetic, grander, more exotic, maybe more beautiful way of showing the human experience?
Aristotle said that drama was all about recognition. There must be an echo of real life. If you can’t recognize yourself in the story, you won’t be moved by it. That’s science fiction, wouldn’t you say? Obviously, sci fi needn’t involve humans. Or even biological beings. But those robots need to have emotions and behaviors that can be compared to those of humans, or the story won’t capture the reader’s sympathy.
Another standard reason sci fi fans give for our obsession is what I call universal loneliness. I feel this acutely, and it has nothing to do with personal loneliness. I simply don’t want humans to be the only species. I want a universe that’s packed with countless species, and I want them to interact. I want the Cantina scene in Star Wars or the officers’ club in Star Trek to be the way the universe is.
Oh, wait. I see a different kind of metaphor now. For the past twenty years, I’ve chosen to live in New York City. My daily existence is like the Star Wars cantina, but for an endless variety of human types. So, maybe that life choice is a tiny version of the universal melting pot I want my species to be part of. Am I causing my life to imitate the art of my imagination?
Imagination! That’s it! That is why I want to be a science fiction author. Science fiction―in fact, all types of speculative fiction―are special among fiction genres for the manner in which they use imagination. These novels are full of make-believe presented as real, wondrous presented as ordinary, magical presented as scientific.
And if you think those flights of fancy are entrancing or diverting to read, you should experience what a treat it is to create and describe them. No doubt about it: the opportunity to use my imagination to write science fiction makes it a privilege to be a novelist.
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Green Light Delivery Synopsis
Webrid is a carter, like his mother and grandfather before him. It's not glamorous work, but it pays the bills, and it gives him time to ogle the sexy women on the streets of Bexilla's capital. Mostly, he buys and sells small goods and does the occasional transport run for a client.
Then he gets mugged by a robot.
Now, with a strange green laser implanted in his skull and a small fortune deposited in his bank account, Webrid has to make the most difficult delivery of his life. He doesn't know who his client is, or what he's carrying, but he knows that a whole lot of very dangerous people are extremely interested in what's in his head. Literally. And they'll do whatever it takes to get it.
With the help of some truly alien friends, a simple carter will journey across worlds to deliver his cargo. And hopefully keep his head in the process.
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You can learn more about Anne at her website. http://anneejohnson.com/
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