Thursday, January 30, 2014

Science Fiction as Social Action

Strands of Silk and Fire, Book II of the Dreamcatcher Fallacy Cycle, is free on Kindle Feb 1-3 and offered as a Giveaway through Feb 14, 2014. 

My writing world is probably more varied than most.  I play with poetry, craft sermons, and design comparative religion adult education texts.  I’ve published research articles and personal essays in international magazines and have even worked with DVD and audio programs. I’ve published books about the Bhagavad Gita and how to make lifestyle changes through the gifts of a contemplative lifestyle. All of these offerings are seemingly different from the world of science or speculative fiction.

But here I will admit it without a blush: my first love has always been writing fiction, literally since I was in the second grade.  In a way, it makes perfect sense that I am at play in all these different fields and genres.  I come from an education family, with a father who was a principal and a mother who taught English and history at the High School level and had a degree in library science.  My own master's degree is in comparative religion, with a graduate certificate in holistic healthcare and a year of theological school under my belt as well.  I actually enjoy thinking deep and long about lots of esoteric things.  At the same time, I have a blast with both the old and new Battlestar Galactica, film and written versions of Dune (I can still recite the Litany Against Fear) and of course, the Matrix, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Star Trek.  I grew up with science fiction and fantasy books scattered all over the house.  Mom and Dad bought me a pony largely to get me off the couch and my nose out of novels.  It didn't really work; I learned to "write" on horseback, composing epic poems and short stories while riding through the woods near our home.

But I also wanted to do something with all this thought. Over the years, I finally have.  And I do it best through fiction.

What an author can attempt to convey through poetry and non-fiction has much more impact when the reader is feeling those same ideas through a beloved character.  In a sense, that’s the difference between belief and experience in religion—beliefs can change, but a deeply emotional run-in with Spirit?  That’s much harder to dislodge in our psyches.

And in a way, science fiction and fantasy can be a kind of social action. There is a whole new speculative fiction sub-genre coming to life around the issues of climate change, for instance.  Like those authors, I tend to bring my spirituality as well as my sense of social justice to life in my novels. Not with a 2x4 mind you, and not from a soapbox, but as part and parcel of what makes a good character tick. This has been particularly true when I write with gay leading men in my work.  I want the world to eventually get to the point when the storyline becomes more important than the sexuality of the characters and where readers can see into their lives and come face to face with their own expectations and assumptions and compassionately question them.  It is a way to write with hope for the future, and with a strong belief in the basic goodness and plastic adaptability of humankind.

Mostly, I deal with the central question of "what does it mean to be human?"  I suppose I also write a lot about "what does it mean to love?"

And that is what good science fiction is all about--envisioning and breathing life into one possible future, asking hard questions and seeing how the ramifications of free will and choice affect the entire world. And doing it in a way that may affect our NOW as well. So I hope you’ll join me and take a look at what I consider to be my best novel thus far.  Good reading, everyone.

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