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.