As you good people will realise I’ve been rather overwhelmed with other very good things this week. So I haven’t had chance to put together a more erudite blog for this week. So below, paltry as it is, is all I can offer for now.
In order to understand why progressive science fiction is going to come to the fore, we need to understand how and why science fiction got to the place it did. I’ve drawn a little diagram, based mainly on the accepted understanding of how science developed, but it is still my own interpretation in places.
Note the time scale is not uniform.
When you look at the drivers for each science fiction period and align them to the times they were dominant, you quickly come to realise that a lot of it is in reaction to current issues. Science made massive strides during World War 2. So science fiction grabbed at it to try to work out the implications. Equally the sociology dominant 1950s was at a time when people were getting to used to the fact that the old world order of a class-riven society was gone and were trying to get their heads around the ‘what now?’ issue.
What I call the ‘first great floundering’ around in science fiction began with the New Wave, when science fiction ideas had slowed up enough for the talented writers of the day to search for something new to write about. Literary techniques came to hand. It is from this time onwards that straight forward story telling tended to be replaced by literacised works.
The brief flourish of military science fiction was due in part to the reaction to the Cold War and at the time, its apparent impasse. Needless to say this led on to the US Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) of the mid-1980s.
Cyberpunk was in reaction to the impending computer access by the man in the street. So it was a natural thing to do in science fiction.
But then things kind of slowed again and we now have the ‘second great floundering’. This time science fiction started to go into partnership with its sister genres of fantasy and horror (yuck – horror always sends a shiver down my spine).
So all in all, this diagram shows to me science fiction is, in general, a running commentary on the issues of the day.
Of course, the big question is ‘WHAT NEXT?”
What are the answers to questions like:
- what is the next big technology that is going impact the ordinary person in the street?
- how is society changing in reaction to the situation we find ourselves in?
- where are we going to explore next and what will it be like?