Author: Brenda Cooper
I stood in a small crowd at a local book store’s 25th anniversary party a few weeks ago, wandering around with my author badge on, nibbling on small snacks, and talking to people who showed up for the party. Many of them would come up and ask – in a kindly and rather interested way – what I wrote and were my books there? I’d smile and say, “I write Science Fiction.”
And they’d say something like, “That’s nice dear,” look away, and wander off to find an author more likely to be writing something they wanted to read.
Part of that was surely the crowd, which was more middle-aged and less “geeky” than the folks I usually talk to about my writing. Nevertheless, I found it a little sad. Many books that helped define modern society came from the speculative fiction genre. Classics like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Flowers for Algernon are all solid science fiction. There’s fabulous current work in the genre. Anything by Paolo Bacigalupli (including many short stories), Ted Chiang, Nancy Kress, Ursula LeGuin, or Connie Willis is likely to explore issues at least as socially relevant as the classics I just mentioned.
Even more important, especially to readers like the local crowd at the bookstore party with me, there is nuance and a strong literary spicing in today’s F & SF. A lot of our work is very character driven, accessible, and definitely not just for men who like rockets. In other words, it’s readable. Maybe even fun. The writers – and readers – are women as well as men.
The most compelling reason to choose some science fiction is the time that we live in. We are almost choking on change. Whether it’s the rise of robotics, the fact that we all have near-analog to Star-Trek communicators, the glory and dangers of the internet, or the threat of climate change, the world that we live in is changing today, and tomorrow, and the next day. We may not recognize the world our children will be our age in, and we almost certainly won’t recognize the one our grandchildren will see at our age. But it’s up to us to explore and understand the many technologies changing around us, and up to us make choices today to create a livable future. For almost every new technology or big social shift, there is a science fiction story or book or series. An accessible, character-driven and entertaining way to explore change. Maybe even to embrace it.
Teenagers are reading science fiction and fantasy in droves. So hopefully if I’m there for the 35th anniversary of the local bookstore, people won’t look away when I say “science fiction.” But in the meantime, I can’t imagine that all of middle-aged folk want to be left behind. Be brave. Be curious. Pick up a good science fiction book today.
About the Author: Brenda Cooper writes science fiction and fantasy. To start her current science fiction series, pick up the award-winning book, “The Silver Ship and the Sea.” Her next novel coming out is “Mayan December,” a smart, suspenseful read about the end of the Mayan Calendar, but not the end of the world.
You can find more of these science fiction and fantasy books over here. http://bit.ly/iASiCE