What happened to the fun in science fiction?

60's Slingers by Jason Weidel

60's Slingers by Jason Weidel

 This is a question I've been asking myself for a few years now. I'm tired of depressing, nihilistic science fiction stories and I know I'm not the only one. Even for those who may enjoy the current offerings that pass for science fiction they may be looking for a wider variety. Where is that variety? Sadly, it's disappeared.

It's very much related to another question I've asked about certain styles of music - hip hop and rap. As I grow older I've found that I no longer listen to much of it but the question is asked because it has changed drastically and not for the better: whatever happened to the fun in hip hop and rap? It's become dull, stupid, repetitive trash only concerned with money, cars and hoes.

It's become painfully dark and nihilistic. No thanks. personally, I find nihilism to be a poisonous way of thinking.

Science fiction has gone down the same sad path and while I've heard the various arguments for why science fiction has forsaken its pulpy roots, bold adventures and heroes and positive look at science and humanity's future (some of them make very good sense), I find that often times those of us who write stories for others to read have a deep influence on people's attitudes and thinking and on the larger culture, whether we want to admit it or not. It's the same with any artistic endeavor. You do influence others with your work and it can be profound. So, the kind of work you create and put out there becomes important.

I'm not saying that people should censor themselves. If one wants to write only dystopian, nihilistic sci-fi, go ahead. I have no interest in stopping them. But where are the writers who are tired of reading stuff like that? Where are those who have become tired of the mundane?  Science fiction has forgotten its bold roots and those of us who want to see more positive science fiction are being under-served. I myself am a science fiction writer and I write fiction that has a more positive view of humanity and the future. I suppose it has to do with my own philosophical beliefs. I believe that things will certainly become much darker, but then they will  eventually get much better for humanity. This is reflected in my work. Some people believe that humanity will eventually find its way out of the morass, others, like me, believe God will eventually solve the issues. Regardless of the belief system, there's a positive end as the result.

Perhaps some of this is nostalgia ( I see nothing wrong with that) but entertainment doesn't just reflect society and its ills, it also reinforces them when it simply follows the downward path seen in society. If you want to change something, you can't simply reflect what you see. That's a lazy form of creative endeavor. You have to reach out for something better. You have to take action to create a vision of your own. Just like old school fantasy where there are clear delineations between good and evil, a vision that usually leads to a positive end, which is the sort of fantasy I usually prefer, writers who aren't interested in the mundane or the nihilistic need to put our own brighter visions out there. We need to impact and influence the genre with a new chorus of positive voices. There's no real vision anymore, no wonder. Reality has let us know that Mars and Venus and other planets are hostile. but there is nothing more magnificent than the human mind when it needs to solve problems. The hostile conditions on these planets shouldn't stop science fiction. After all, it's FICTION, not reality. Fiction often times influences the real world. Why has this stopped? It's become the other way around and I find this has deadened writers' imaginations. That should never be!

Untitled, by Mark Covell

Untitled, by Mark Covell

Right now there is only one chorus and it is sounding the death knell of the human race. If the agents and publishers are the problem, if they won't publish old school sci-fi then self -publish it, so readers who want these kinds of stories can be served well.

I have readers who tell me they enjoy my Mission series because it reminds them of the old school stuff they read as kids. That old school stuff is still good reading, in my opinion. It's one of the reasons so many people, like me, love Star Wars!  It doesn't have to be completely retrofitted sci-fi that doesn't take into account the issues people face today. Of course, it will take on the modern times we live in. I'm not calling for hunky-dory stories (The Dune series by Frank Herbert is a prime example of serious science fiction that is anything but happy-go-lucky. It's cynical, but the wonder in the storytelling is still there) but must everything be dismal and dark? Where's the vision? Where's the wonder and imagination? Where are the movers and shakers to shake us up out of our nihilistic stupor? Those readers are out there. Let's stop ignoring them.