cover of oryx and crake

Broken Worlds of Dystopian Science Fiction

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I’m still having nightmares about The Road by Cormac McCarthy and the Oryx and Crake trilogy by Margaret Atwood. I had to read the Secret Garden as a sort of palate cleanser. So when I heard about Neal Stephenson’s call to stop being so damn cynical, I agreed with him. When did Science Fiction become so rough on my soul? And how did I, a Star Trek nut, end up filling my head with the images of destroyed worlds?

cover of oryx and crake

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (image from Amazon)

I made a concerted effort to read older, more optimistic Science Fiction. I was looking for the same spirit of wonder that I get from Star Trek. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke or Ringworld by Larry Niven are the first two books that come to mind. I enjoyed the books; they made me wonder about the future. Mission accomplished.

The problem is that I can’t get away from the broken world that’s growing in my brain. The more I ignore it, the more it pokes at me. New characters give birth to themselves. Scenarios materialize while I’m daydreaming at traffic lights. It’s starting to eat my novel, and that is upsetting. It’s like watching an animal get eaten on a nature show. It feels sad but necessary. Inevitable.

Even though I don’t necessarily want to add to the genre of dirty and raw future, perhaps something inside of me needs to make a contribution. Maybe it has to do with my latest personal struggles with health. Depression is always lurking and it feels like it’s ready to eat me, just like a nasty dystopian future is trying to eat my sweet historical fiction. Reading and listening to the news in an attempt to remain an informed citizen of the world does nothing to cheer me. My heart feels like the world is lost and that seems to be what my heart wants to write.

Even if it’s just a timeline, or a folder full of character sheets, I think I have to get these ideas out of me before I can continue with my happier fiction.




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