I often get asked the question, “Why do you write science fiction? Why not thrillers, or mysteries? Or any other genre?”
That’s actually a really good question. The short answer is, I do write other genres. Like most writers, my goal first and foremost is to entertain, and whether that entertainment comes out as a suspenseful thriller or a romantic romp doesn’t make all that much difference to me, just as long as I’m having fun writing it and readers are having fun reading it.
That said, science fiction has become one of my favorite genres if only because it’s not limited by the conventions of other genres. There are certain themes and philosophical ideas that only science fiction can tackle.
Take my novel, The Forever Gate. It was inspired by a comic book series from the early eighties that I read while growing up, called Machine Man. In the comic, there’s a whole generation of people, called VidAddicts, who live their lives inside a simulated world or video game. I was around eight-years-old at the time I read that comic, and it was probably one of the first times I’d ever questioned reality. I was hooked on science fiction.
Science fiction offers the medium to tackle big questions that the other genres, and society as a whole, are afraid to ask. Questions such as: What is consciousness? What happens when we die? What is reality?
Science fiction allows writers, and readers, to explore the very boundaries of perception and reality, of what’s possible and what’s impossible. We can expound and dissect philosophical ideas such as existentialism, desire, identity, and social structure. Science fiction also allows us to illustrate the pros and cons of technological and scientific innovations, as well as their effects on society. As I mentioned in a review of Dune by Frank Herbert, science fiction can also influence society itself. Dune‘s popularity as a novel that depicted a planet as a living organism strongly swayed the environmental movements of the time.
I also write science fiction because it’s just plain fun. This is not to say that it’s easy. Science fiction is one of the hardest genres to write well, because it’s immensely difficult to keep everything consistent and believable in a made-up world. Things like Series Bibles help, of course. The science fiction writer also has to perform constant research on esoteric subjects running the gamut from the tensile strength of a long sword to the atmospheric contents of an alien world.
Thanks for reading. I’d love it if you chimed in with any questions or comments below. Free digital copies of Forever Gate 1,2 and 3 are up for grabs, and I will choose one lucky reader at random from the comments to win all three.