Ran across this post by Tom Bottelsen and it encapsulates one of the ‘must haves’ for science fiction: sage scifi should make progress feel possible. Here’s what he said: “If you look at all the other science fiction writers, they always view the world as getting to this post-apocalyptic, dystopian, horrible nightmare … Star Trek is the only universe where they said, ‘we fixed it, we solved it’ … [Star Trek] is the only one that has hope.”
This mindset’s been in scifi my entire life, and I’m doing more work to distill the audacious, the hopeful into Mesh and Mike.Sierra.Echo. At the same time, I have to make sure I don’t fall down some weird rabbit hole of tribalism (“Inkican Crew is all powerful!”) or fanaticism (Cult of Mac, anyone?) about my stories. Striking that balance as a single person has been part of this journey.
I’m grateful to know that other inspirational people have wrestled with this idea. Jim Henson said it best: “I decided that there are many situations in this life that I can’t do much about: acts of terrorism, feelings of nationalistic prejudice, cold war, etc. So what I should do is concentrate on the situations my energy can affect.” How do you translate that idea into ‘making progress look possible?’
Keep It Simple: Hope
My solution, so far, is to simply imagine a world where the problems *have* been fixed or show what people fixing problems look like. In Mesh, a community of people get together and say “This guy’s trying to take over the world, and we’re going to stop him!” In Mike.Sierra.Echo, Mike’s family works in rocket shipping and in a hundred years climate change is a solved problem. I don’t spend a lot of time talking about the mechanics of how to fix global warming because I don’t know how to solve the hard problems.
I’m here to remind people – when you feel down about the world, all you can do is go back to your values. In ten years do you want to be the person who said ‘sorry,’ or do you want to be the person who said ‘not on my watch?’ I can’t change the world with my scifi. But my hope is to inspire the people who can, to feel like they can. I want my scifi to be sage, to make progress feel possible.
Creating hope requires effort – you have to avoid extreme thinking, resignation, and isolation. Instead, you must work toward being engaged, performing acts of service, exercising your sense of humor, being mindful, and deciding to be determined.
This is a lot easier said than done. If you want to talk about hope, you must also talk about how to avoid pitfalls of toxic positivity, virtue signaling, and commercializing human issues. I’m still trying to figure that out – sometimes I screw up along the way. When I do, I have to reset and start over. Painful, but necessary. This work reminds me that at the end of the day – all I can do is try to make progress, because I feel it’s possible.
Wrapping this up for now because I’ve got more work to do on Mike.Sierra.Echo. I hope this post helps you feel progress is possible for you, and that sage scifi can help you on your journey.
Write on! PSA: I don’t do comments on this site, too much effort to moderate. So … if you want to talk about this or read more –