Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Nansi Kunze, the author of Dangerously Placed, graciously agreed to write a guest post for Strangemore! Below is what she has to say about why science fiction is so compelling. Thanks, Nansi!!
Check out her site at www.nansikunze.com!
Guest post written by Nansi Kunze: Why I Love Sci Fi
As a writer, I’m often confronted with readers’ strange ideas about Science Fiction. Like any genre, there are those who love it, those who despise it and even those who’ve never read any of it (poor deprived souls). But more than most genres, I think, Science Fiction is a hazy concept to many. Some people hear the word ‘science’ and immediately prepare for near-terminal boredom … because science is all incomprehensible technical jargon and lab-coated dudes with no sense of humour, isn’t it? To others, Science Fiction is all like the B grade movies of the 1950s: hideous aliens, guys with ray-guns and female characters whose main use for cutting-edge technology seems to be in the realms of corsetry.
Well, while I’m not averse to stern guys in lab coats and actually wouldn’t mind owning a silver jumpsuit with built-in anti-grav body-sculpting, to me Sci Fi is something quite different. It’s all about technology. And before any of you decide that first group was right about science, let me assure you that I don’t mean the detailed inner workings of time machines or spacecraft propulsion specs. I’m talking about the technology we have all around us: phones, gaming systems, the internet. Technology we enjoy.
Although Sci Fi is hard to define, one simple definition that’s been used a fair bit over the years is that it involves technology that doesn’t yet exist. This means that what I write is just barely Science Fiction. It wasn’t that much of a stretch for me to imagine how Virk – the virtual workplace system in Dangerously Placed – would function, because we already interact online, use avatars in games and communicate audio-visually over vast distances. Sure, it counts as Sci Fi, because as far as I know there are no virtual offices, or Virk Suits that can make you see and feel a colleague’s handshake as if she were right in front of you instead of on the other side of the world … but there could be.
That’s what I love about Sci Fi: the way it could be real. Authors sometimes use Sci Fi to explore what could go wrong in our world. So do I, occasionally, but I much prefer to envisage some of the awesome things we could do with technology. Sci Fi author Neal Stephenson recently wrote an essay about how important it is for authors to write about what we want to do with our future, because our stories inspire scientists and engineers. The great Isaac Asimov was thrilled to discover that his Science Fiction stories had actually inspired the invention and production of the first-ever industrial robots. I love that one day someone might be inspired to make the technology in my books real too (okay, maybe not things like Alex’s virtual-jeans-trying-on system, but then again – who knows?).
Sci Fi is like Fantasy: it gives the writer – and the reader – the opportunity to experience a world that’s very different to the one we live in. But unlike Fantasy, Science Fiction has the capacity to become reality. Magic may not be real, but technology is. Sci Fi shows us the potential we have to make our future as weird and wonderful as we want it to be.