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June 23, 2009

Excuses For Not Writing Optimistic Science Fiction

UPDATE: Changed the title of the post to emphasise that the post was a list of excuses for NOT writing optimistic Science Fiction (as pointed out by Jetse in the comments; don't send him dystopian stories!)

Jetse De Vries is editing a new optimistic Science Fiction anthology called Shine. It's a great idea and it's stirred up all sorts of unrest and reactions in the SF writing community. In a recent post he lists the excuses for not writing an optimistic SF story, I urge to to go and read the full post but here's the summary:

  1. (Deliberately) misinterpreting the meaning of 'optimistic SF'.
  2. Optimism is not realistic.
  3. You cannot predict the near future exactly, so you might as well not try.
  4. There is no possibility for conflict in a full-on optimistic future.
  5. I can't do it because we live in dire times.
  6. My downbeat SF story is meant as a cautionary tale.
  7. I will not confirm to your positivist agenda: nobody tells me what to write.

And Jetse has great answers to all of these excuses.

My excuse is: I've been trying and it's really bloody hard! I'm now on my fourth attempt at something reasonable and interesting and a plausible(ish) extrapolation. I think this time I may be on to it. But the three months I've been trying to write optimistic stories are not enough, I have a feeling that it's a life times work. I'm not going to give up though.

And I can't wait to read the anthology.


sounds cool. I'll check it out just for the novelty of a new viewpoint. Thanks!


Many thanks for attending people to my post.

I have one minor nitpick: the title of your post is "Excuses For Writing Optimistic Science Fiction", while my post is actually about (and you mention that correctly in your post itself) 'Excuses for *NOT* writing optimistic SF'.

Funny thing is that John DeNardo at SF Signal is linking to your post with *that* title, which may lead people to think that I'm editing a sequel to "Wastelands" (nothing against JJA, BTW: he's a metal maniac like me).

And I'm getting way too many dystopian stories already...;-)

James, Great topic to cover, and long overdue, so thanks for the outline. I too have been writing an optimistic science fiction novel called Star Chosen. It's going through a final proofreading phase now. Working on it for the past 5 years, I must say that keeping the tone optimistic was lot easier to maintain as long as my general attitude about life is about being hopeful and grateful in my day to day vision.