black sabbath

The Lost Art of Speculative Fiction

fiction-thumb.pngWhen I was first getting into Speculative Fiction, it had a spirit of activism, adventure, and dream to it that so much modern fiction simply lacks. Pioneers in this field, Frank Herbert, Gene Roddenberry, Harlan Ellison, David Gerrold, et al, believed that SF could challenge peoples preconceptions and inspire them to transcend the limits imposed upon them by their upbringing and culture. They wrote and produced SF that attacked our sacred cows, presenting the world as it could/should be with all of the ambiguity and possibility that this world offers us. This is the SF I fell in love with and endeavor produce and support. The trite cynicism that has again become en vogue is antithetical to this spirit of transformative fiction that inspired so many to fall in love with science and hope for a better world. It does not have to go this way. We must reclaim the spirit and art that made SF great.

The root of the problem is the basic existential quandary we each experience in our time. We hope for a meaning and purpose for our lives and when we find that nature does not provide us with an easy answer we can slavishly follow after, we assume life is devoid of meaning and purpose all together. Nihilism is an easy trap to fall into, but is also an easy one to escape.

Sure, life has no grand overriding purpose... or does it? Life seems to exist to survive, thrive, and evolve. With the exception of evolution, these are not very inspiring goals, but the urge to better ourselves and grow throughout our life is a fundamental function, if not purpose of existence.

This is no reason to despair. The fact that life does not impose a purpose on us allows us to find or invent one for ourselves. What a liberating gift from the universe! We are free to choose our purpose and to find meaning for ourselves.

Now, I won't lie to you. This is a burden to bare, there is no doubt about that, but it is a burden that is easy for us to take up, if we choose to live boldly.

For too long, I have lived my life under the constraints and limitations placed upon me by society. I allowed myself to fall under this nihilistic stupor, but I have had enough.

This is why I am not a fan of Battlestar Galactica or Heroes. They have followed this cynical path into a nihilism I find neither sophisticated nor mature. It is solipsistic and puerile. Yes, life can be dark, but no one benefits from wallowing in that darkness.

When I was growing up, I became an avid fan of Goth Rock, Deathrock, Punk, and Metal. At their bests, these genres are about rising up and railing against these cynical worldview foisted upon us. "Only Theatre of Pain" (Christian Death) is the music of defiance, not acquiescence. Black Sabbath sang in anger at the darkness of life. At their best, these are songs about standing up and not about being trodden under foot.

We have to rise up, stand up, speak out, and most of all dream. If we do not, then the future is indeed lost, but not because of destiny, but because we have let it follow that path.

Dream again, and dream big. Find something to be for, not something to be against. We are strong and imaginative enough to rise above any darkness that comes upon us. Rise up! Let's take our future back!