Your DUTY as a sci fi fan… ?

 As a lover of grand or subtle thought experiments, your duty is to Pay It Forward! 

SF has been very good to you.  

In fact, it’s arguable that we are all here today, having just barely edged past many potential disasters like nuclear war, in part because of the dire warnings and self-preventing prophecies of sci fi… an argument that I back up in Vivid Tomorrows: Science Fiction and Hollywood.


Indeed, SF has conquered the world!  Or at least the movies, TV and Games that influence billions of humans, both entertaining them and preaching lessons of worry and danger and (occasionally) promise.


Alas, you and I also know that the games and shows are pablums – at-best distilled essences – devoid of subtlety, texture and complexity that can be found in higher end novels and stories. Sure, as a novelist I’m biased!  But if you subscribe to this community – and have read this far – then so are you! Biased – (the way AIs will be!) – in favor of actual reading. 


In a fast-changing and complex future, won’t we need complexity and subtlety and multilayered thought? Agreed? So, are you willing to act on that?


Beyond writing Vivid Tomorrows, I’ve pushed two projects. One is TASAT: There’s a Story About That, which could give future decision-makers access to 120 years of sci fi thought experiments that might be useful in a crisis. It’s been slow going – building a functioning web tool – even though at any point TASAT might save the world! (Volunteer programmers welcome!)

The other endeavor has been Reading for the Future.


The recently-late Greg Bear and Gregory Benford & I – back in the 90s, issued the “Killer Bees Letter” to the SF community asking that fan orgs ‘adopt’ the local teachers and librarians friendliest to science fiction. In part this would involve offering one day con passes for them to attend a special academic session one morning… followed by an afternoon pass for their most-promising students and parents. The marginal cost to the fan org would be almost nil. The possible benefits – e.g. reversing the aging and decay of fandom – might be huge. And they were substantial, in the few places it was tried.


I have re-posted the “Killer Bees Letter” on my other – less-used but more formal blog, on Word Press. Please click and give it a look.


Do you think it is a worthy goal to help new generations to step back occasionally from the flashy flicks and shoot-em games, to share our love of the literary genre that explores concepts far more deeply? 

Concepts like the vast array of nuanced dangers and opportunities that lie above, beyond… and just ahead.

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