At one time, science fiction characters solved problems by the dramatic application of science. In fantasy, heroes overcame incredible odds to ultimately triumph over evil. Horror, of course, plumbed the darkest side of human nature and the supernatural, seamlessly illustrating what happened when the two collided.
Not so any more.
Horror leaks into fantasy; fantasy darts into science fiction and the genre itself has broadened to a point where the originals and their clear permutations are now sheltered under the umbrella of Speculative Fiction. (Isn’t ALL fiction speculative? Is that where we’re going?)
As harbingers of things to come and heralds of good and evil, science fiction and fantasy served clear purposes. The one provided visions of the future that we could mull over, reject or accept and consider implementing. The other gave us clear hope that given great sacrifice, good would triumph over evil. Even the Bible, if taken as simple literature, bears this out over and over.
Science fiction and fantasy, fondly known more briefly as SFF, bore their message both to a very specific slice of
My thesis here – which will go undefended at this point and serve only to irritate or get people thinking – is that by scooting under the skirts of “speculative fiction”, both SF and F have lost their purpose. It is a rare instance now to read SFF and come away with a positive vision of the future or a belief that good will triumph over evil.
That’s not what “specfic” is for. Dystopian SF has flooded the YA/Teen market. Fantasy worlds hold neither good nor evil, just people of various fantastic natures muddling about, trying to do…well, usually not right, but stuff so that they don’t get killed themselves.
Instead of being messengers of future hope and the triumph of good over evil today “specfic” merely seeks to speculate in order to entertain (or grind a particular writer’s axe...but then THAT part hasn’t changed.)
How if we hie back to request those former days – NOT the “Golden Days” of SFF which, besides being schmaltzy, were sexist, racist and almost any other “ist” you can think of) – rather the days when SFF was the evangelistic literature of future hope and the triumph of good over evil?