Imagination in Science Fiction

London olympics
London olympics (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I haven’t been posting for a while, but then I’ve had a badly sprained ankle that was painful and tiring… well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it….

That wasn’t very imaginative, but it was realistic. And when it comes down to it, boring.

So imagination is there to take away the tedium, the run-of-the-mill monotony and life’s dreariness of repetition. It is also there to answer, ‘what can I do if this went wrong?’, a kind of of survival technique by preparing for possible dangers.

Science fiction is here to answer, ‘what if this happened?’ Notice the similarity? More specifically, it answers  ‘what if this technology or that development led to this possible danger or issue?’

So it’s not surprising that science fiction is one of the most imaginative genres of literature, indeed the whole spectrum of the arts.

But why do I feel that the supply of imagination to science fiction has been cut back in recent years?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that my writing is full of it – I’m one of those people that tries to portray things in as few a set of words as practicable and the consequence is that I go from one idea to another (look up my published work if you don’t believe me). It’s now got to the stage where my imagination has taken me beyond anything you can read in published works today. So it’s only natural I feel disappointed with what is being published these days.

Other down sides to this are that it’s even more difficult to write about and it is difficult to get it published. In the latter case, the publishers are looking for sure-fire sellers and anything that doesn’t have a history of selling is looked on with suspicion. As they would have to take a financial risk, you really can’t blame them.

We have now reached an impasse. Today’s economic realities means that people are starved of imagination.

… and yet, I think back to London Olympics last year, which is currently being celebrated with an Anniversary Games. Someone at the back end of the last century had the imagination to take an opportunity that presented itself and start the ball rolling to bring the Olympics to this country for the third time. A lot of hard work by a great many people went into it to make it a success.

What we need is something equivalent in science fiction… a kind of science fiction Olympics for the imagination. Yes we have the cons, and indeed next year we will see Loncon3 in August. There you will find the traditional motifs – Dr Who, Star Trek, Star Wars etc, which is all good fun. But what about the imagination? What about the wacky ideas that turn out not to be so wacky after all?

For that we have to have some index by which we can measure imagination. Yes, we can usually point to older stories where the same ideas and imagination have appeared in, but who has such encyclopaedic knowledge? What about the Wow factor? That can come about because of the good presentation rather than anything to do with imagination…

So we need some sort of imagination Olympics for science fiction… any ideas? Anyone?


3 thoughts on “Imagination in Science Fiction

  1. I think you’re right about the economic downturn affecting this. Most people are living payslip to payslip and can’t afford (emotionally) to think too far in the future. I’ve often felt that scifi is a reflection of our time, even when it isn’t try to be. It seems that really only hard sci fi writers are willing and able to look way beyond that.

  2. Many thanks for your comment. Interesting comment you make about the hard SF writers wanting to look beyond the here and now in economic downturns… which is a great pity as hard SF writers can in various ways give people a lot of hope for the future.

  3. I thing the overall acceptance of relativity runs parallel with the overall acceptance of our crimpt economical situation. Maybe science fiction is trying too hard to comment on our present lives and not into future possibilities. Just because we’re not doing so well now; we shouldn’t let it overshadow our views of the future. We never know what the future holds.

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