Thursday, October 26, 2017

A futurist explains why he is not a fan of the literary term "science fiction" which has been championed by the likes of John Clute, Kim Stanley Robinson, Adam Roberts, James Bradley, Andrew Milner, Cat Sparks, among thousands of other novelists and literary critics worldwide: what's his beef with sci-fi?

"Let's dump sci-fi, shall we?"

NOTE TO BLOG READERS HERE: [ Keep in mind that this Twitter thread was written by futurist, Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, class of 1990, history major, who is *NOT* a novelist or  a literary critic. He mines other things as a self-described planetary futurist. He grew up on a hippie commune with his hippie parents in California and after college spent 6 months travelling in Europe and then flew over to Tokyo where he worked as a copy editor for the English language expat newspaper The Japan Times, and likes to quote radical Rabbi Michael Lerner. He's a very intelligent and compassionate person, in his mid-40s now, but readers here should bear in mind that literature is not his field of endeavour. He comes at science fiction as a reader, and that's good. Storytelling is important. So here's his schtick.

He concludes "Let's dump science fiction" [and replace it with a better genre called planetary-fiction, aka "planet-fic"] .

His thread:


1. I'm just not a fan of the literary term
"science fiction." Let's dump it. Here's why.

2. I'm not judging those who've used it — hell, I've used it myself. But I think we need to set it aside.

2. The main reason is simple: All writing, in the 21st century, should have a planetary perspective.

3. One can write exquisite miniatures of the internal life of isolated individuals, but those individuals still live in a planetary crisis.

4. The only way to write truthfully about the now and *not* resonate with that crisis is to write characters who are extremely out of touch.

5. Worse, any story which looks into the future+ isn't in some primary way concerned with planetary crisis is likely untrue in a deep sense.

5. If we could with any confidence say "We're trading the old normal for a definable new normal," we'd be in much better shape than we are.

6. "Science fiction" implies work about the planetary crisis is a (sub-)genre, like books involving travel or JFK conspiracies.

7. Can we say useful things about the kinds of changes we seem most likely to see; evolve "robust" strategies to try to prepare? Yes.

8. But we must understand that the range+ magnitude of uncertainties we're beginning to confront make our lives different than ever before.

9. We live in a time of nonlinear changes in human systems, accelerated by the chaos in natural systems. Nothing will be "normal" in that.

10. The challenge: creating institutions and practices that can evolve sustainably to new realities in a time of deepening planetary crisis.

11. The very concept of "normal," I think, risks locking us into ideas of gradualism and incremental continuity that could be catastrophic.

11. The very concept of "normal," I think, risks locking us into ideas of gradualism and incremental continuity that could be catastrophic.

see MORE tweets:

15. Boxing those sci-fi stories into a genre already defined largely by apocalyptic stories is not helpful. We don't need the science fiction genre. Let's dump it and replace it with "planet-fic".

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