Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December 16, 2008: Thoughts on SF and writing.

I've been going through one of those introspective moods lately where I step back and consider my life, my writing and my so-called career. For years, I've been writing science fiction, yet this effort has not led where I've wanted it to. There have been a few stories published here and there, and there was one year where I was a runner-up in the Writers of the Future Contest, something that leaves me with mixed feelings as I really do not approve of the contest, considering it to be a $cientology public-relations/ propaganda tool.

(Why'd I enter? Because I saw no need to make a moral issue out of it. After all, how was I to know I had a chance in H-E-double-toothpicks of ever winning the thing? Then again, there are clearly more winners each year than can possibly make it as SF writers, one of several hints that, like I said, the contest is a $cientology public-relations/propaganda tool.)

The result, like so much of my writing, is hints that I could make it if I worked hard, made the right decisions and allowed things to click for me.

But they haven't. Which begs the question why?

Today, I suggest that one factor is the following.:

1) Today's science fiction does not offer the chance to succeed while doing what I wish to do in science fiction. The markets are not there. The audience is not there.

2) What I wish to do is be mildly subversive, thought-provoking yet not hurtful, mind expanding in an artistic way. Perhaps a bit like the "New Wave" SF of the '70s, the sort of thing written and pushed by Michael Moorcock and Ballard, among others. I'd like to write stories that are the literary equivalent of listening to one of the classic "Talking Heads" albums when they first came out. These albums were not the least bit political, generally speaking, yet from the minute you placed that needle down on the vinyl and heard that first exciting "hiss," got hit with that mildly subversive hypercreativity, that you knew the world was full of so much more than you'd ever before dreamed possible.

I don't really want to make people think what I think. I want them to see that there is a whole world out there full of things that they've never seen, heard, felt and never thought of before. I want to inspire them to look for these things. I want to provoke curiosity and inspire intellectual exploration.

Not so much of an in-your-face thing as say Chuck Pahlaniuk, for instance, or Terry Southern or Michael O'Donoghue to dig earlier, although I do love their stuff, but something closer to . . . well now, there's the problem, isn't it? Bruce Sterling maybe? It's tough to say.

Without writers I admire, or magazines I enjoy, perhaps this is not the genre for me to be pursuing. No real conclusions for the moment. Just ideas to turn around and ponder. We'll see what gels.

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