Science Fiction has been slated by nearly everyone who doesn’t read it. It’s easy to see why – it’s rarely literary, it grew up out of the pulp fiction golden age and it’s often more interested in the story than the characters. Perfect fodder for snobs.
However, and it’s a big however. Science fiction is a wonderful medium for telling stories. Like all fiction it permits us to discuss that which in real life we might find awkward or taboo. It gives us space to ask the questions of ‘what if?’. Fiction is a mirror for the reader and their society while also being a place where we can have a lot of fun at the same time. Good writing doesn’t preach, doesn’t tell the reader what to think. Instead it provides us to room to reflect on our own place, our own values without judging us.
Science Fiction is genre and by that we mean it collects together certain recurrent themes and motifs. I’m not interested in those – they’re well discussed elsewhere. What interests me about science fiction is that when written well it should transcend the speculative slant and provide characters that people want to read, that they care about enough to accept the discussions on spaceships, laser guns or whatever else the author populates their world with.
I write science fiction because I want to ask questions that contemporary, or even historical, fiction can’t address as easily. Helena’s story about a genocide is a good case. I could have looked at a historic case but it would come with real world baggage – both political and emotional. By looking to the future, to a world that’s recognizable but different, it’s allowed me to ask the same questions but shorn of the other baggage that might stop people accessing the ideas I’m interested in exploring. Now, the story isn’t simply about ideas, it’s about individuals and how they live out their beliefs and relationships within the context they find themselves. In other words, although the story is set in the future, the people in it will be people you can relate to. If I can’t manage that, all the science in the world isn’t going to help you, regardless of how exciting that element is.
Science fiction can match up to the snobs – just see Adam Roberts or Jeff Vandermeer if you don’t believe me. Yet it doesn’t need to. It is its own beast, capable of wowing us, touching us and taking us to places no other genre can.
About the Book
Author: Stewart Hotston
Genre: Science Fiction
Helena is one of the Oligarchs, genetically-enhanced, centuries old families who rule the world. As a new world war begins, she is ordered to find a boy who could save the human race from genocide. Yet all is not as it seems; Helena’s finds enemies on all sides, intent on bringing about the war with all its horrific consequences. To make matters worse, Helena’s own integral AI, accidentally freed from its constraints, challenges both her motives and her identity, yet she has no choice but to accept its treacherous aid if she is to have any hope of surviving those who need her dead.
About the Author
Stewart works in the city but was once a quantum physicist who always liked his science fiction to have actual science in it as well as the thrills and characters that make great stories. Oh, and he likes fighting with actual steel swords.