Thursday, February 28, 2013
The Kind of Science Fiction I Don't Write
I decided while I'm sitting here feeling blah and not up to doing anything long-term and major (like finishing the formatting of The Storm-Wing), I would check out a couple of different types of SF that frankly I had never even heard of before I started self-publishing. I got to thinking about this as I was glancing at one of my reviews of The Termite Queen on Goodreads, where the author, "Marcus," says: "As a lifelong fan of Asimov, I appreciate Lorinda Taylor's focus on one aspect [of] her future rather [than] the sensory overwhelm that is cyberpunk."
So I thought, what is cyberpunk, anyway? I looked it up on Wikipedia:
"Cyberpunk is a postmodern science fiction genre noted for its focus on high tech and low life. It features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.
"Cyberpunk plots often center on a conflict among hackers, artificial intelligences, and megacorporations, and tend to be set in a near-future Earth, rather than the far-future settings or galactic vistas found in novels such as Isaac Asimov's Foundation or Frank Herbert's Dune. The settings are usually post-industrial dystopias but tend to be marked by extraordinary cultural ferment and the use of technology in ways never anticipated by its creators. ... Much of the genre's atmosphere echoes film noir, and written works in the genre often use techniques from detective fiction.
" 'Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.' – Lawrence Person."
WARNING! My books are the absolute opposite of the above, so if you're into cyberpunk to the exclusion of more literary materials, don't buy them! My novels exist in highly civilized milieus, with a love story that shares more with comedy of manners than with film noir or bad-ass street smarts. Technology is secondary to human relationships and human psychology. (Mythmaker Precept No. 8 states: "Science has a soul; technology is soulless.")
Even my termite stories qualify in that regard. The Shshi may be primitive technologically, lacking even the use of fire and having no mathematics to speak of (although they have engineering skills that are bred in the genes), but they have an excellent moral compass, behave according to the rules of their kind, and care for one another. They are courteous little beasties, putting a high value on good communication and the power of words. Therefore, I consider them to be highly civilized!
So then I thought, what is steampunk? I can see some appeal there, because it would be possible to write or read something in that subgenre just for the sheer fun of it. Here is Wikipedia's take:
"Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Therefore, steampunk works are often set in an alternate history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American 'Wild West,' in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk perhaps most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art."
I can see enjoying that kind of fanciful and light-hearted turn on science fiction. The article also mentioned "Warehouse 13," which I had already decided must fall into the steampunk category, and I enjoy that series very much. I also like the "Back to the Future" movies.
But this is not what I write, either. I'm just not interested enough in either high or low technology to explore the possibilities. I'm much more interested in how people (and peoples) interact. But I would guess that there is more stylistic interconnection between steampunk and my type of literary science fiction, so if you read a lot of steampunk, go ahead and give mine a try! You might find something to like about it!