Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Another Wow, But Not a Positive One

Via Sheila and Holly, the Mundane SF Movement. The basic premise is that SF has a duty to laugh off the futuristic improbabilities of faster than light travel, alien encounters, and all things space operatic in favor of the actual probable future of the planet and humanity. What bothers me most about this is the assumption that only Mundane SF can discuss "a new focus on human beings: their science, technology, culture, politics, religions, individual characters, needs, dreams, hopes and failings." (The indication that the forces behind said movement believe that adherence to the principles of the movement produces better SF is hardly surprising given the arrogance and ignorance of the previously mentioned sentiment.)

There are snippets in the Manifesto that give me hope that the Mundane disciples might not take themselves as seriously as the overall idea indicates, though. I provide the following as evidence that at least some of the creators were laughing at themselves and their ideas: "To burn this manifesto as soon as it gets boring." But then they go and say something like "we also recognize the harmless fun that these and all the other Stupidities have brought to millions of people and the harmless fun that burning the Stupidities will bring to millions of people." (The Stupidities including the improbabilities of human futures that are the stuff of space opera and, dare I say it, "popular" SF). Glad to know that I'm hoping to devote my life to "harmless fun" that can either be burned or read for mass entertainment purposes. They also think that any story that takes us to other planets and alien societies "can encourage a wasteful attitude to the abundance that is here on Earth". Wait a minute, I thought my space opera was harmless fun? I love it when my work is both dismissed as benign fluff AND deemed as conducive to the destruction of the planet. For more fun, arrogant inconsistencies, check out their piece on Evolution.

Also entertaining is the idea that Mundane SF is a minority, little-known subgenre of SF. I find this attitude fascinating because the general population is often only exposed to SF books in the form of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and such other literary SF classics. Yeah, no mundanity there. I do have several suggestions for folks who seriously believe that the only good and worthwhile SF is that which sticks to humans, Earth, and our immediate spatial surroundings. The first being: remove head from sphincter. The second: SF and fantasy are often shoved together in bookstores; just consider space opera as part of that "fantasy" stuff and keep your little "we're the true SF" party to yourselves.

The overall point of my little rant? Science fiction that pertains to the mundane is as vital and necessary in literature as space opera, fantasy, romance, mystery, literary fiction, horror, Westerns, etc. We need all these genres because every person on this planet is different and they are reached in different ways. (Yes, people, I am saying that there are worthwhile themes and character studies to be found in ALL those genres - and it is in those elements that fiction tries to teach something, to contribute to the greater good.) As a secondary bonus point, I feel it's imperative to mention that the very nature of science is to question what we know (and when it comes to the realm of quantum mechanics, we know very little). Therefore, calling on SF authors to refrain from writing what science considers now to be so improbable as to be impossible and stick to the generally accepted probable goes against the entire purpose of science. As a scientist, I find this attitude rather offensive and much more destructive than writing stories in which we discover an abundance of life and livable ecosystems in the universe.

No comments: