Category Archives: science fiction

How hateful: (Or, Embracing diversity by simplifying it.)

So back in the book of Leviticus, God instructs the Hebrew tribes in the way that they’re to live their lives. There’s been more than one kerfuffle over passage from the books of the Law (of which Leviticus is), but there’s at least one that echoes a sentiment we can all get behind: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” (Lev 19:34, NIV)

Love those who are different and strange, and treat them justly. It’s a verse we don’t always see brought into play in conversations these days, which is a shame. It’s both profoundly wise and one of those things that the Israelites later forgot, only to have God spend a lot of time harping on them through the prophets.

It’s also inclusive.

I’ve written before on the perversion of social justice that’s becoming pervasive in a lot of circles. About how it’s become a machine of hate, not love. Exclusion, not inclusion. A woman by the name of K. Tempest Bradford illustrated that very same point earlier this week when she challenged people to stop reading works by “white, straight, cis male authors for one year.” Later on, she specifically suggests skipping Christian authors.

All this is predicated on the fact that she read a lot of stories she didn’t enjoy. Which is cool. We all do that, but as Larry Coreia notes, normal people just go find something else to read when that happens.

But that’s not the way of those who understand social justice and diversity in this modern perversion. Having lived as the “other,” the foreigner, they choose to other those that they don’t like. In the name of social justice, they’re unjust. In the name of diversity, they lop off a portion of the diversity.

Now, I have a horse in this race. I’m a white, straight, cis male author, with a novel coming out this year and at least another couple of short stories. And maybe that’s what’s bugging me. We all have our own struggles, and this woman would cheerfully shut out mine because of the circumstances of my birth, among other things. I don’t appreciate that. Ms. Bradford has a dozen stories or so listed on wiki, so she should know how hard it is to sell a short story.

If you want to branch out in your reading, awesome. Go for it. But branch out all over the place. Embrace diversity, genuine diversity. Read the people you disagree with. I do; it’s enlightening. Sometimes, they make awesome things regardless of how you feel about their politics or religion.

There will be no list from of authors I will not be reading. There will be no rationale behind my choices, save for “I like stories from this person” or “I don’t like the way this person writes” or maybe “It doesn’t sound interesting.” It will be without hate and rancor.

And lastly, a challenge: Ms. Bradford: I invested the time to read some of your work, even though you’ve lobbed a grenade of hate at my camp. Invest the time in mine. Is it really that traumatizing for you?

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On the Superversive: A Science Fiction Credo

(Man, this blog is turning into an odd mishmash of theology and SF.)

(Also, spoilers ahead for Robotech/Macross and Firefly/Serenity.)

Edit: Jagi has informed me that Superversive and the Human Wave movement were independently developed. They’re still very similar 😉

The illustrious L. Jagi Lamplighter has a post today discussing the goals of the Superversive literary movement. Superversive is a bit of a refinement, as I understand it, of Sarah Hoyt’s Human Wave science fiction movement, which calls for stories that are fun rather than emotionally punishing for the sake of being emotionally punishing.

It’s not going to come as a surprise to anyone that knows me that I like my stories dark. I like my stories to be nailbiters, heroes fighting against all odds. I like my stories rough, and I want my heroes to suffer a bit. I’m not opposed to killing a beloved character, if that character’s death has meaning in some form or another.

“Meaning” doesn’t necessarily have a point to it, incidentally. There doesn’t have to be a moment of “He died so that we could live!” But compare the death of Macross/Robotech‘s Roy Fokker and Firefly/Serenity‘s Wash. Roy’s death, meaningless and stupid, came in the middle of a war, and narratively, told us this show wasn’t going to promise us that our heroes would make it out unscathed. Wash’s death came randomly and pointlessly, during a moment of relief and without context, just to remind us that Joss Whedon likes to make us cry.

Thing is, even in all these dark stories, I want heroes, light, and hope. One of the things that Jagi and the Superversive folk is the pointless nihilism of literature. There’s a sense you get, reading a lot of modern lit, that life sucks and nothing has meaning. Nothing will ever have meaning. (Jagi talks about Steinbeck, whom I have not read, but I got the cliffnotes version of while watching The Middle. It matched Jagi’s experience.) Even if I didn’t already prefer my stories to have spaceships and laser guns, that sort of thing would drive me away from mainstream lit.

Some folks would claim it’s escapism, that the nihilism of mainstream lit is the reality– and, well, I won’t spoil it for you, but read Jagi’s entry. She has some things to say about that. As a Christian and a seminarian I have to remind you that it is far, indeed from the truth. Our book tells us that things are dire and deadly and will get worse, but that, in the end there is triumph, does it not?

It’s an interesting thing, and I keep trying to get a handle on it: but in a lot of ways, science fiction and theology feel very much the same when you dive into them. They scratch the same itch, as it were, and in a lot of ways, that itch is to have the truth of hope reinforced in us.

That’s not to say that there’s not SF that shares the nihilism of mainstream lit. There is. I remember, for example, reading  M. John Harrison’s Light, which Neil Gaiman recommended as a stunning space opera and, in my memory, lives mostly as a story about people with weird issues masturbating.

But at its core, SF is truly about a sense of wonder. Wonder can mean a lot of things, and sometimes it can be terrifying. Sometimes you’re awed by the power of the invaders. Sometimes you’re awed by the nobility of the space captain, sometimes by the ancient alien artifacts, sometimes by the sheer scope of it all. Stray too far away from the awe-inspiring, and you’ve betrayed your genre.

Science fiction is a literature of awe and wonder, not jaded cynicism. It shares, whether the plot posits a Creator or not, a core view with Christianity: That the universe is a place worthy of marvel and wonder.

I count myself amongst the Superversive and Human Wave folks. The first story I ever published (“The Wrong Damn Thing to Say”) was an attack on the banal nihilism of mainstream lit; the second (“Negev“) and third (“Domo“) are heavily dependent on the idea that there is more to the world than what we see. Another story, “God-Eaters,” will be coming forth from the Sci Phi Journal for issue four or five, hopefully, and it shares the same worldview. It’s not a huge library, but it illustrates the point. I buy into this stuff.

I buy into the Superversive and Human Wave ideals because that’s what science fiction is supposed to be. Because that’s how the world is supposed to be.

And now on to important things:

Over in Japan, word has broken that new singers are being auditioned for a new Macross series. This is news that has me screaming like a little girl inside.

For those of you who aren’t incredibly familiar with me yet, anime has been a fairly formative thing in terms of the way I plot. I’m not huge into anime the way I once was (At the dawn of Pokemon, a friend and I went to see the first movie, because that’s how uncommon it was to get an anime release of any sort in our theaters. It was a dark time.) there are still a few series I go ga-ga for. Macross is pretty much the top. I’m a sucker for any show with good characters, giant space battleships, and beautiful airplanes. (In space.) Read the rest of this entry

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