by William Alan Rieser
Page 1 of 1
You probably do not look at the current spate of science fiction writings as
anything other than imaginative and absorbing. Given the popularity of sagas
such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Star Gate, Babylon 5 and their derivatives, I can
hardly blame readers and reviewers for thinking so. After all, there are global
incentives and dogma that regulate literary efforts, not the least of which is
money. Formula writing, which adequately describes the above series, is
by an old standby, namely: 'If it
ain't broke, don't fix it.' There are literally hundreds of successful
examples from other genres that support this reasoning, in fact nearly all of
them. Wouldn't it be foolish to
disturb this seemingly endless flow of proven method? I would agree with this
philosophy if it involved a material invention, my wife or my car, but there is
something wrong with the assertion that it applies to fiction because the
essence of imagination is in the creation of new concepts. Unfortunately, film
and television are designed to sustain the ideas that seem to work, much more
than they are willing to promote innovative and truly provocative thoughts.
is a sad state of affairs given the power of that media when coupled with the
deplorable dissolution of literate readers in our undereducated world. What you
really have is a dearth of originality and an assembly line of old news that
satisfied escape seeking intellects twenty-five or more years ago.
Why is this so?
Part of the reason is caused by the wrong assumption that we, especially the
corporate we, should be foolish to go with anything that is not a winner. This
is exactly the same ruinous logic that has destroyed professional sports in
America and turned so many gifted, talented people into mediocrities with but
few exceptions. To break the bonds of that kind of reasoning requires an
intrepid author, one who is willing to wait several lifetimes to achieve
vindication. This is not only sad, from the creative point of view, but wholly
insidious and stupid.
What proves my point?
Take an honest look at all your favorite stories, especially the ones hyped
so intensively and mentioned above. Granted, there are some instances when new
germs of thought manage a slight breakthrough, but they are usually short lived
and rather underdeveloped or left hanging. How often, in your inspirational
fantasies based on these stories, have you encountered beings that are not
hybrid earth creatures? Be honest! Aren't they almost universally bipeds with
arms, legs and a head? Oh, they may change the coloring or add plastic
appendages to elbows and knees, but no reasonable person can conclude they are
anything other than derived from our planet.
Where have we gone wrong?
Authors contribute to this nonsense by eluding the basic premise of science
fiction, namely change. Nearly everyone agrees that if there is life in the
universe, it most certainly will not duplicate us or anything else on earth.
our best writers insist on drowning you with continuous streams of unlikely,
unbelievable characters that do little other than provide livelihoods for
actors, technicians, conceptualizers and the banking institutions that force
whole mass into a vicious Moebius loop.
How do we fix it?
Return to the basics. If one is trying to write about an extraterrestrial,
then one must stand (arbitrary term) in that creature's shoes or plasma
conduits or whatever it
may have. In other words, stop looking at these admittedly highly foreign
entities with the eyes of a human being, rather the intellect of a galactic
being not conditioned to our way of thinking. The moment this is done, the
writer is immensely freed from the constraints of complacency and all the other
bad effects I have been describing. Mind will definitely breathe easier and
elaborately in an environment uncluttered with the debris of formulas and
literary chains. Of course, the movers and shakers may already be too far gone
to admit the truth of this, in which case there are thousands of reruns to
challenge their trapped, unsalvageable sentience.
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 William Alan Rieser, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.