Why Sci-fi?

Sometimes when I'm trying to muddle through A Brief History of Time, I ask myself why I chose sci-fi over fantasy.  It's moments when I'm reading multiverse and string theory that I question why I didn't go with magic.  In these dark times I imagine somewhere Stephen Hawking is having a good chuckle at my expense.

I love magic after all.  I can say with no shame that the Harry Potter series tops my list of favorite books ever, and I've read quite a few books.  Crewel even has some fantastical elements to it, but in the end, it's grounded in very theoretical, pseudo-science.  One day while I was decrying the whole choosing sci-fi thing to my husband and how hard it was and how I didn't understand anything I was reading but still felt compelled to grasp these theories, he said something insightful.  I know, dear readers, you are dying to know.  After all, my husband is amazingly profound.  No really, he is.  Also he understands said complex scientific theories and explains them to me with small words and pictures.

He said, "Sci-fi isn't about the science, it's about taking a possibility and exploring its implications."  He pointed out a favorite book of his Kiln People by David Brin (which I have not read, because he lost his copy!).  In it, people have the ability to make clones of themselves, called kiln people.  These clones can be used for various purposes and have varying life spans.  The main character is a private detective who uses his kiln people to do his dirty work, which sometimes gets them killed in the process.  It's mystery, complete with all the Sam Spade tropes and Chinatownesque settings, you'd expected of a P.I. novel, but really it's a novel that explores the possibility of duplicating oneself and the implications.  It isn't bogged down in the science.  It just makes use of the idea.  Since we're all familiar with genetic engineering, it's not terribly hard to buy into and it addresses a subject that's certainly fascinating and controversial in an exciting way.

And it's discussions like these with my husband and other writers which remind me that the Crewel World series is sci-fi because it had to be in order to play with the effects weaving the world would have.

But maybe also cause I'm a giant J.J. Abrams fan.  That could be it, too.

So tell me, why do you read or write sci-fi?

5 comments:

LM Preston said...

I have no idea why I write and read scifi. Except maybe because in my day gig I'm a techie. And Scifi has no boundaries.

Emily said...

I also love sci-fi. I like to believe that these things, while maybe not possible today, are theoretically possible.

I listen to the podcast "Big Picture Science." It's amazing and insightful and makes science accessible to me.

Can't wait to read CREWEL.

melissa @ 1lbr said...

You know, even though I studied astronomy in college, I don't think I ever finished A Brief History of Time. I'll have to pull out my copy and see if I can muddle through it sometime.

Amber Cuadra said...

I haven't actually written any sci-fi, but I am finding my reading to lean more towards sci-fi and dystopian these days instead of fantasy. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because everything seems so much bigger and doing anything really is possible in sci-fi and fantasy is more bound by the rules of the world you've created.

Esther Cotton said...

I love sci-fi, too. :) I know that my roots start as a child, watching science fiction shows with my dad, and hearing him tell me oral tales that revolved around sci-fi ideas.

Then there's the fact that I've always loved the stars... always loved learning about space, and our future as a people.

Nowadays, it's a mix of all that, and my insatiable love for all things techi, futuristic, alien, etc...

And Doctor Who. I can never have too much of Doctor Who. :P

I can't wait to get my hands on your book, by the way. I want to add it to my list of loves!

- Esther
http://roseywinterrose.blogspot.com