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Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Future Spells Doom?

I know this has been discussed before, but I find it curious how prevalent the pessimistic has become in science fiction. I don't think this is a bad thing, mind you, but it is something to acknowledge. But why? As curious as this whole thing is, the reasons why seem more intriguing. What draws science fiction writers to the more dark aspects of the human condition?

To me, it seems that we focus on the bad because the good isn't always so interesting, or perhaps because the good is already covered by an entire community of individuals with the future of the world in mind (we call them folks "scientists"). Maybe the bad is just that much more entertaining to write. For me, this is definitely true. It has something to do with beating up on my characters; I find something entertaining in torturing them. Maybe there is something similar going on with more well-established authors than myself. I don't know.

What do you think are the reasons why there is such a strong focus on the pessimistic in science fiction? Why is the optimistic not as appreciated? I'd like to know what you all think.

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  1. Anonymous7:24 PM

    It seems a heckuva lot easier to generate tension and crisis from pessimism. Or maybe it is a reflection of the general pessimism of our time -- we are deeper into technological evolution (the knee of the exponential curve, if you will) and have already been shown that no amount of technological showmanship brings us any closer to Utopia.

  2. Oh, I agree. But at the same time as we are showing that utopia can't be grasped, the same technology is making clear that there is much to applaud about our future: cures for terrible ailments, new amazing technologies, etc.

    But pessimism is easier for creating tension, in some respects. I think there's an element of that which is weakened by that ease, though.

  3. Technology and the world is showing us that there isn't much to be happy about. I think that the way our world is turning out that the technology is advancing but the human condition is decaying. Most authors are seeing this and writing accordingly.

  4. Jodi: I don't see technology as negative...I see nature as negative, but not technology. There's a lot of awesome in tech right now.

    But you're probably right about the decay of the human condition, particularly now.

  5. Perhaps it is easier - I can believe that - but if so, it must be proof of laziness on the part of writers, since hope could be injected with a little more effort on their parts. Maybe they're all a bit depressed themselves :P

  6. Grace: Oh, well writers usually are emotionally unstable, even if they think they are the opposite. We're all screwed up...