Recently I listened to an action-packed, science and sci-fi friendly podcast from studio360.org. There are so many fascinating and stellar ideas and names in the Will Sci-Fi Save Us podcast that it would fill up a week’s worth of blog articles to go into it. Think of everything from David Brin to the Benford brothers and you have a hint. Add in a touch of electric sheep and blade runners… and I know you’ve run off and are ignoring the rest of this article.
One of the main themes at the start of the podcast was the notion of the loss of hope – or the onset of dystopian popularity – in science fiction.
I am not here to say what’s wrong about that. I’m a fan of both China Miéville and James Tiptree, Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon). You couldn’t get much further from hope than the stories of dear Alice. But I am also a fan of hope.
To quote the podcast: “…everybody ‘knows’ that good science fiction is grim…” But it hasn’t always been so and it doesn’t need to be that way. As David Brin says “It’s so easy to make money with a tale that says ‘our civilization is garbage’…”.
So, the more hopeful your sci-fi story the harder it is to sell? Yet author after author has done just that. I can give you examples, but it is best you discover them for yourself.
I won’t leave you hopeless though.
As a way to celebrate National Science Week I’ve written a short-short that has a smoking gun of hope. It was done as a writing challenge, so it’s under a hundred words and in the first person, but a story it is. Enjoy.
a short story by Rosalie Wodecki
“Oh, my god. I can’t believe it.”
I looked back over my shoulder. My family looked as stunned as I felt.
There was smoke rising from a chimney in the rundown house on the hill. There were no flames nearby. No trees burnt from lightning. But there was a garden. I couldn’t remember the last time we had seen a garden. My youngest probably wouldn’t even know what it was. We’d been walking for so long.
I touched my wife’s arm. “We’re not alone.”
For the first time in what must have been months, we’d found it. We’d found hope.