Monday, 21 April 2014

Politics in science fiction: an inevitability?

Last night I read an article by Keith Brooke (who writes as Nick Gifford) at SF Signal.

He writes:
"...[F]iction doesn’t come much more political than science fiction. Every time an SF writer sits down to write about a near future, or even a far future, she or he is making political choices: in that future, there either is or isn’t climate change or resource depletion; humankind has survived by making certain choices, or survival hasn’t been an issue because these problems were not genuine. We can’t get away from confronting these questions, though, whatever our beliefs; even if we sidestep these issues, we’re making a political statement by doing so."
This is, I suppose, somewhat related to the old "the personal is political" truism of 1970's feminism, in that even avoiding reference to political reality is making a statement about it, but Brooke is right in emphasising that anything set in the future is automatically making a statement about what the world will be like in five, fifty, five hundred years into the future. I am reminded of Ian McEwan's magnificent The Child in Time from 1987. Quite incidentally to the drama, McEwan's world is one in which climate change is a reality. (He deals with the subject more overtly, although arguably less successfully in his 2010 novel, Solar.)

It's a subject dear to my current preoccupations because my work-in-progress is overtly political, so it is nice to see this recognition of the inevitability of political meaning in SF. Brooke cautions, rightly, against polemic. It is a different beast entirely, and one I am at pains to try to avoid.

The answer to that comes, inevitably, from character. Always character.

Welcome to the blog!

In October 2006, I started my first blog, My Growing Passion, which was about science, Australian flora and fauna, and gardening. It marked a dramatic change in my life, when I decided to focus on science rather than the creative writing which had long been my bread and butter. I knew that I would never leave writing, but needed to feed my inner geek. So after a TAFE course in horticulture, I took on a degree in science and worked in a range of fascinating research jobs in biology. Unsurprisingly, the urge to create has never left me, so now I am back to writing, this time combining my interests in science fiction.

This blog and site are where I intend to track the process. In the blog, I'll also be linking to other writing sites, when I bump into something of interest. I'm hoping you'll join in conversations here about the craft of writing, about books and about the writing life.

So join me in a glass of virtual champagne, and toast the birth of my site!