Okay, let’s get serious. I mean it. Really.

Is there any purpose to writing, or any other art form, if nothing is illuminated?  Can we be entertained and enlightened at the same time?  Is it actually more entertaining to experience a story that allows us to look at things in a new way, from a different perspective?  When do we want comfort food and when do we want to go on an adventure that will take us places we’ve never been?

I love science fiction that turns my head inside out.  The Martian Chronicles, A Stranger in a Strange Land, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Nova, Slaughter House 5, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Neuromancer, the list goes on.  If a story is simply an expression of confirmation bias I get bored.  “Mean people are mean.”  “It’s nice to be nice!”  Yawn.

A good story is one that provokes a conversation.  A good science fiction story takes what you think you know and turns it on it’s head, let’s you look at it from from a place you didn’t know existed.  It takes you home the short way by going the long way round.  Sci-fi has unique tools, unique questions to examine us as we are now by looking at us as we might be or as we might have been.  Scientific method applied to fiction: take the human race and change one thing.  Then see what happens.  A controlled experiment.  What would a world without war look like?  Or a world with nothing but war?  The horrors of Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World offer dark mirrors, the possibilities of galactic civilizations in Herbert’s Dune or Azimov’s Foundation Trilogy offer brighter mirrors but they’re mirrors just the same.  The best sci-fi simply lets us know that we’re not alone, that we’re surrounded by human beings who are just as flawed and tragic and hilarious and triumphant as we are.

If it doesn’t do that it’s just cops ‘n’ robbers, cowboys ‘n’ Indians, things going zap and pow and boom, or to put it another way: comfort food.  Sometimes there’s nothing better than comfort food.  But sometimes it’s good to suit up, strap in and go for a real trip.

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6 Responses to Okay, let’s get serious. I mean it. Really.

  1. Jose Gonzales says:

    nice John- take me to these places…I’m ready for a great trip. Reading “The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker right now- not a sci fi, but it might as well be….ever read it? Check it , you might dig it! Spiritual philosophical food for the mind….

    Keep on posting on FB when you got a new blog up. We wanna know! Annnnnd, release date on yer book???

    Yu da man!

    • john says:

      At this point they’re talking the first of March for the release date. Might be a little earlier. Just got the (hopefully) final proofs back from Catherine, my editor.

  2. Julie Kae Sigars says:

    So looking forward to your book AND your writing about…writing. With my exciting health issues, (Take THAT silly brain tumor!) I may not give you what I should, but I am counting the time to have book in hand!

    • john says:

      I am sending high-powered, super-excellent brain-tumor-butt-kicking HEALTH THOUGHTS OF THE FUTURE your way!!!!!

  3. Gary Henson says:

    I look for writing that takes me down a new path. Could be same forest but I want to see different trees, meet a different wood sprite and see a new villian or two. I want to climb into a new world and look around.

    I love finding a new author that kicks my imagination. I hope that he/she has more so I can grab a martini and hit the porch this Saturday.

    A good story hits me like a good art. I don’t always know why I like a painting or a piece of pottery but when I see something I like I just stop and soak ’em in.

    And yes sometimes I seek out what I hope is another book just like ‘That Book I Loved’. Just did that last week. I loved Shogun. I read it again every once in a while just for the fun. So I took a chance on ‘A Cloud of Sparrows’ by Takashi Matsuoka. Same forest, same time period. But the path and the people I visited there were wonderful. Comfort Sushi and I loved it.

    Love the blog, keep it up!

    • john says:

      I love the unexpected. Like going to see a movie I haven’t heard anything about that was made in Tibet or Latvia by people I’ve never heard of. Great new paths!

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