(more notes toward more stuff I’ve been thinking about sf and teaching and maybe even living)
I have a truly fine class this term. They haven’t read much in the field, which would infuriate some of my colleagues, but several of my students have answered that complaint very well already.
“I haven’t read a lot of science fiction but … that’s why I’m here.”
Students are students. That’s what they do.
And I know, in some instinctual way, they won’t let me down. Which puts the burden on me, but that’s okay. I’m looking forward to the challenge. If I’m lucky, every class teaches me something new, and I’m looking forward to what I’ll learn this time.
I ran across a posting on Facebook, from another teacher, who was trying to work out a comprehensive definition of “speculative fiction.”
Speculative fiction is what you call science fiction when you’re taking it to meet your parents for dinner. Yes, I’m being facetious, but you know what I mean.
I never define speculative/science fiction. I let my students do that in the first session. Then I check with them at the end of the term and see if their definitions have changed.
Science fiction, contrary to its strongest defenders, is a living form. It changes and reshapes itself as the world changes and reshapes itself. If one can successfully define it in a way that makes all other definitions superfluous, call the undertaker. We’re outta here.
In the meantime, I’m rolling a number of things around in my head, juggling them around to see what comes up.
What we want from life is magic.
What we want from science is magic.
If we want to figure out where we’re going, and write about it, look for what we want, and what it will do to us.
If you want to write about future science and technology, look for magic. Look for mystery and miracles.
“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” – Sir Arthur C. Clarke
“I am only really interested in a fiction of miracles.” – Flannery O’Connor
All great stories are love stories.
All great stories are about loneliness.
The two sentences above do not exclude each other.
A good story is a good story, whether it is based upon objective reality or a subjective interpretation of reality. A good story, however, does not necessarily result in a good reality. Fiction remains fiction, no matter how many people believe in it.
But if you have to believe in a fiction, at least pick a good one.
We return you now to our regularly scheduled programming …