When your science fiction isn’t science fiction any more

I have been reading with interest J. Scott Coatsworth’s SF/F Magazines Wait Out The Great Pause, over on the SFWA blog.

Coatsworth’s articles are about how science fiction and fantasy magazines are dealing with COVID-19 and some of the possible future effects. He also links to two articles by Neil Clarke, from Clarkesworld.

Toward the end of part part 2 of Coatsworth’s article, publishers and editors talk about the type of writing that might come out of this current crisis.

 “I am very curious to see what the literature is that comes out of this event … BCS in late 2016 received more stories than usual featuring dystopian worlds or autocratic governments. I expect to see a similar reaction in writers’ work from this pandemic …”

Scott Andrews, editor-in-chief and publisher of Beneath Ceaseless Skies (BCS)

I agree. I am curious, too. And it’s not just science fiction writers who will be writing about pandemics, now. All writers will. Because this is no longer part of a potential future any more, it’s real. It’s now. It’s life.

So if life now is what we science fiction authors used to write about, what will we science fiction authors write about next?

It is the nature of good science fiction to extrapolate from the now and take potential futures all the way to extremes. Right now, some of those extremes are more dire than they have been in a long while. There’s plenty of room for dystopias and pandemics yet.

But what else?

Here are some types of stories I’d like to read right now.

Hopeful futures. It would be nice if some science fiction started to go the other way. When the world seems to be digging itself into a hole, a little escapism in your off time makes a good balance. I want some light, fun books to read.

Not just in science fiction. Fantasy, too.

Less fantasy based on so-called historical ‘fact’. I’m fine with horses and swords, but no women sitting on the side in their long dresses, cooking and doing the dishes, and non-white races as slaves or servants. Give me a world where everyone is equal and your job doesn’t depend on your colour or race but on your ability. Where people can sleep with whom they like, no matter what sex they are. You’re writing fantasy, for goodness sake. The only rules you are bound by are those in your book.

Plus of course the old faithfuls. Please give me funny books. Not necessarily laugh-out-loud, but fun stories. And characters. Give me characters to love and care about. Actually, it’s not that different from my last wish list.

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