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A Declaration of Purpose

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

  • Humanity is worth saving.
  • One planet is not enough for humans. 
  • Experiments and efforts to reach space are not a waste of money, but useful for life on earth, and reaching beyond it.
  • The government is incapable of reaching out to the stars, private endeavors will be the ones to drive that movement.
  • We write and publish to persuade others toward that goal of reaching out to the stars.
  • Science Fiction stories further that persuasion and expansion of imagination.
  • This is why science fiction needs to be based in hard science, and also why fantasy needs to create the understanding of what it is that heroes do.
  • This is no way interferes with belief in a higher power – or conversely, requires belief in a higher power.

I listened to Toni Weisskopf deliver that thrilling declaration of what science fiction is for on Valentine’s Day at LTUE 33. It was an appropriate day for a fan, which she is as well as being the head honcho at Baen Publishing (unofficial motto according to Toni, “all of the clout and none of the crazy”), to declare their passion for a genre. Two genres, really, but we’re lumping them together.

If you’ve ever wondered ‘why?’ she laid it out succinctly. Don’t write science fiction just because you can, she told the audience, do it because you want to change the world. But you can’t do that without entertaining, first, she warned, and that’s hard. It’s easy to write a message, a screed that reads like a manifesto. It’s hard, very hard, to craft together plot and theme to create an entertaining story that fulfills this declaration.

She prefaced the declaration with: “Larry Correia thinks writing fun action adventure stories won’t change the world, and he’s wrong.” I couldn’t agree with her more. The role models of my childhood, the characters I wanted to emulate, they weren’t the people who were ‘like me’ they were the heroic figures I could strive toward, doing exciting, brave, bold things. I didn’t want to read about little girls who didn’t do anything but whine, I wanted to ride the river with L’Amour’s men and women, to fly alongside Kip and the Mother-thing. I wanted to reach out and pluck the stars…

This is why I write. I want to not only create a little escape from a world gone a little crazy, but to inspire others with heroes, with characters who are more than they could be. To show that there is truth, honor, and justice left in this world. I want to see a strong space program rise up out of the ashes of what NASA once was, and I agree with Toni, that it will likely be privately run and held, and stronger than any ephemeral government could have the vigor to pursue. Something I heard from an audience member while I was attending the Future of Technology panel made me think. “What about the other billions of people in the world?” he asked. “You’re only talking about first world issues.”

What about those people? As one of the panelists pointed out that in Africa, for instance, where he had been on a humanitarian mission, they skipped cumbersome technology and leaped ahead to cellular tech because we had already made that possible… I had an epiphany. Far from needing to apologize, America, and the rest of the so-called First World, we make that possible. We are the Research and Development Department for the entire world. Without our wealth – and yes, we are a comparatively wealthy nation, but this is not a zero-sum game – those leaps forward would not be possible. Further, I suggest that without science fiction, and the heroism that fantasy can inspire, those research developments would not be so quick to happen. Imagination sparks creativity, and the dream can be wrought into reality.

In order to make the most of the dreams, we should foster the best of the entertaining, the hardest of the science, and the most heroic of the stories. Face reality, and understand that without entertainment, it’s not going to appeal to the young. And finally, as Toni pointed out to me on the first day of the LTUE symposium, this place was full of bright young faces. Most ‘fan’ cons are graying, something I’m told has been lamented since the 70’s (I was a tad too young to have been there, myself). Not so this symposium for writers and artists. There were babes in arms, children, and best of all, lots of eager learners. This was the face of the future at Life, the Universe, and Everything.

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About Cedar Sanderson

Writer, mother, reader, gardener, cook… artist.

18 comments on “A Declaration of Purpose

  1. Reblogged this on Cedar Writes and commented:

    It’s my day over at Otherwhere Gazette. Ever wondered why you should bother with science fiction and fantasy? Because it can change the world!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Remember my caveat–I did not say ALL SF should be about this. Just that there should be room for it.

    Liked by 8 people

  3. Cedar: yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

    I was once one of those young people, and I devoured good science fiction. It’s mnot just in terms of invention that the genre steered the world – socially, too. I gravitated towards stories that had a “what if” element to them: what if the world keeps going in the direction it is now? Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” Rand’s “Anthem,” stories like Asimov’s “It’s Such A Beautiful Day,” and his “Profession,” and hundreds of others have stuck with me. Some have been hopeful and some ominous, but they are stories by writers who deliberately pointed out that we were already on that road, and it could lead here.

    A question for you – that declaration at the top of your post. Is it quotable? May I use that? I’m working on something now and I’ve needed something that a character can point back to as his motivation for pioneering into space, and it fits perfectly. Coincidentally, it envisions a future of bankrupt nations without the resources to reach into space, and private individuals and investors taking up the torch. Thanks –

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Cedar Sanderson For the Win!! (Ok, maybe with a little help from Toni Weisskopf)

    Once upon a time, modern submarines, cell phones, space travel, faster than sound travel and probably some other stuff only existed in Science Fiction. Now they’re all real. Think about that. Just think about it.

    Granted, most SF writers are not actually scientists or engineers, but that’s not their job. The job of a SF writer is to inspire the next wave of shiny doo-dads that do cool stuff. The job of a fantasy writer is less about technology, but the sense of wonder, the speculation that more is possible than what actually exists, the heroism of the human spirit all still needs to be there.

    It’s often been said that a society reflects its myths just as a myth reflects the society that spawned it. It’s the job of a SF/F writer to create that mythology. I like this statement.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Reblogged this on The Worlds of Tarien Cole and commented:
    An interesting alternative from Toni Weisskopf. I’m not sure I 100% agree. Because I still believe the primary goal of a writer is to TELL THE STORY. If the message comes along for the ride, great. If the hero and heroine inspire, awesome. But the story is what I want people to take from reading. I want them to think they’ve been on an amazing ride.

    If I’ve done that, I won. If they took something from it, that’s icing. The story is the cake.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ” One planet is not enough for humans ” REALLY! so we just run thru the galaxy killing planets because someone makes up this shit?

    Like

    • Nice straw man you’ve set up there.

      Liked by 3 people

    • “Earth is the cradle of humanity. But Mankind can not stay in the cradle forever. . .”

      – Konstantin Tsiolkovskii

      Liked by 3 people

    • Congratulations Paul,

      You have just demonstrated why traditional SF and F is dying. I honestly would not have thought it possible to pack so much idiocy into fewer than twenty words.

      First: it’s rather difficult to kill planets, what with them not actually being alive in the first place.

      Second, on the off-chance you actually meant “destroy”, it’s also difficult to destroy planets. They’re big. Ridiculously big. Humanity might have come up with some impressively destructive technology, but nothing that’s capable of destroying a planet. Glassing over portions of one, sure, but destroying it? Nope.

      Third, life – all life – colonizes. Every living organism on this planet is descended from successful colonizers. The stay-at-homes died out and were replaced by the colonizers.

      You can prate all you like about how this is our planet and we don’t need to go anyplace else – just like the stay at homes in some corner of Africa saying that all that land elsewhere was far too dangerous and it was stupid to go off and explore it.

      If you want to be genuine, you’re going to have to abandon everything that’s been wrought by colonists. That would include… damn near everything. Clothes (European and Asian – both colonized by humans thousands of years back). The computer you used for your ill-considered outburst (American). Indoor plumbing. Electricity. Oh, and if you’re over fifty or so you should consider offing yourself because hunter-gatherer tribesmen tend not to last much longer than that (the few who do are revered as elders because they survived whatever was thrown at them). Especially if you’ve had surgery, been vaccinated against anything, or your birth was assisted in any way.

      One planet is not enough, because it’s part of human nature to look to the next frontier, the next big challenge. Those who choose not to do this have been described by many words through history, words like “slave”, “prey”, “food”, “peasant”, “serf”.

      Feel free to resign from the human race and become deadweight. I’ll be looking for the next frontier in literature or life.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Does anyone else smell a troll?

      Smells like stale cheetos and unwashed loser.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Paul,
      If you are truly convinced that humanity is that much of a blot on the face of the universe then why are you still alive? If you truly believe this then it is your duty to live up to your belief and off yourself in whatever manner you find most appropriate. The fact that you are still among the living just makes you a hypocrite.

      Like

    • Grow up and get over yourself.

      You aren’t that powerful, you aren’t that wise, all you are is finding an excuse for failure and trying to make it seem impressive.

      You’re not promoting anything noble, or even preventing a bad– you’re just trying to make others agree with the sour grapes of your own inability to build, create, grow and deal with reality, which is far more complex and resilient.

      Like

  7. Reblogged this on Margot St. Aubin and commented:
    This is a distillation of What SF and Fantasy are. This core philosophy is the reason why they alone have not forgotten what made the genre great in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] over at Otherwhere Gazette, my friend Cedar Sanderson posted an after action report of sorts from LTUE. The basis of her post was a “declaration of […]

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