One thing I want from science fiction

WHM reads a column on the issue with science fiction and has an ah-ha! moment about one thing he’d like the field to address.

I’d like to expand a bit on a comment I made on a reddit discussion about Graham Storrs’ column “Why is Science Fiction Dying?”. I think Storrs’ theory about the decline of scientism affecting science fiction might very well be on target, but I’m less concerned about the diagnosis and more about a potential remedy.

Actually, it’s less grandiose than that. The column and reddit thread made me think about what I would be most interested in when it comes to science fiction. What would make for a must-read for me? I wrote on reddit:

 You know what I’d like to most see is a writer, especially one with a bit of love for literary fiction, challenge William Gibson’s science fiction of the almost now. I enjoy Gibson’s work. But I think we need works that deconstruct his coolrunning and marketing gloss and go a bit more in depth in to how people are experiencing this era of tech connectedness and economic malaise.

The more I think about it, the more right it seems. What Gibson is doing is fascinating and, yes, even important. I would like to read works that are somewhat (or fully) in dialogue with his novels Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History. I very well may be overlooking them, but I don’t see a lot of mainstream literary and/or sci-fi works that are actively addressing where we’re at now or where we might be in the near future.

I think that responding to Gibson could be particularly useful because I suspect that his visions of tribalism and upscale-ness and paranoia while interesting and even insightful don’t quite get at how most people experience our current reality. That is, while Gibson is making fun of Bigend, he’s also sheening up his novels with the language of branding and consumer objects of desire. I’d like to see somebody come at late capitalism etc. at a different angle.

If anyone knows of works that fit the bill, please do comment (or contact me privately if you’re shy). I’ll likely read them and write about them here.

4 thoughts on “One thing I want from science fiction”

  1. Todd mentioned Neal Stephenson on my Facebook page. I have yet to read Reamde, but, yes, that may fit the bill.

    It also occurs to me that The City and the City by China Mieville has some things to say about some of the concerns of Gibson — it’s definitely about late capitalism and paranoia and surveillance.

  2. .

    Jennifer Government may fit the bill. I read it when it was new (before I was blogging) and I liked it but suspect it probably wasn’t great.

    Most fiction I’ve read that meets your qualifications is pretty terrible. Which is a shame.

  3. Jennifer Government looks a little too on the nose, but I may check it out.

    Ty Franck suggested Walter Jon Williams — his Dagmar Shaw series looks interesting, and I definitely will be reading at the least the first book.

    I have not read any John Brunner, Gilmoure. A couple of his titles look familiar, though, so it seems like I’ve read about him at some point over the years. Where’s a good place to start?

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