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  1. #1
    Nobody in Particular kcf's Avatar
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    What Will Hope do for Science Fiction?

    From the blog:

    In my 32 years Iíve not seen anything like the current atmosphere here in the US and even the rest of the world. The best single word for it seems to be HOPE. Late Tuesday night after the election results confirmed Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States of America the scene was simply amazing. Spontaneous celebrations erupted around the country. People celebrated from the White House to Times Square and even here in the relatively small city of Flagstaff, Arizona, people drove around honking car horns, screaming for joy and celebrations erupted in downtown. The next day came as a daze of ĎI canít believe it really happenedí and millions felt a true hope for the future of our country that has been missing.

    Now, Iím much more of a realist than an idealist and I fully realize that the US is still a very divided country. However, this is nothing like any election Iíve experienced in my lifetime and the hope that those I know and that I feel myself cannot be denied. It seems much of the world feels the same way.

    In this post-9-11 world things have changed. This change is reflected in all walks of life and science fiction has certainly embraced the reality. Look at everything from Ken Macleodís The Execution Channel to Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley and from Cory Doctorowís Little Brother to David J. Williamsí Mirrored Heavens. Science Fiction writers have taken stock of the world and look toward an ominous future.

    So, I ask does the election of Barack Obama change the game. Will Obama really change things or will he be more of the same for the US and the world? How will science fiction writers address the hope that permeates much of the world Ė at least temporarily?

    I really am curious to hear from readers, writers, editors, and others. I suspect that any change will be some time in coming, less than hoped for, and that itís too premature to see how science fiction will react, if it reacts at all. But, I still feel that hope and it cannot be denied.

  2. #2
    Registered User devilsadvoc8's Avatar
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    Disclaimer: I am not an Obama supporter.


    Honestly, I think Obama was/is more rhetoric than action. That is supported by his track record or lack thereof. His vision is grandiose and mainly fluff. I hope, however, to be proven wrong.

    I will consider his presidency a success if he accomplishes just one thing: to bring the black population of America out of its apathy, culture of blame & hate and irresponsibility.

    As for science fiction or even just fiction in general, I think that they reflect the attitude and emotions of the time. I haven't personally noticed that SF has been more bleak than in previous times. I think that heavier topics are taken on nowdays and I also think that there is more acceptance for a non-traditional happy ending type story.

  3. #3
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    position: European
    thus I'm looking at the Obama's election from a far and somewhat cold point of view
    I (but not only, discussions pop up in the forum I frequent more) say: ok, great, but now let's see what will really go on...

    positive pushing for SF?
    some days ago my friends had a debat about this http://strangeandhappy.com/2008/09/2...ion-manifesto/
    so the topic is felt
    but not by the writers, apparently

    eventually, I don't mind about happy ending or new hopes, just want good SF, preferably not in the form of saga (kinda soap operas, IMO)

    EOF

  4. #4
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    It's an interesting post though I think that a lot of the Hope thingy is based on misguided panic that Bush/Cheney/Rove/... were going to hijack the democracy, that people were not going to vote for an African American and similar ridiculous stuff. I expected an Obama blowout since he got nominated and was sure of it since the financial crisis.

    I used to like all 3 major party candidates, Hillary - she is my senator and I voted for her in 06 -, Obama and McCain, but in front of the Obama phenomenon, both Hillary and McCain conducted abominable smear, very little substance campaigns and I got disgusted profoundly with both and with Bill Clinton who was my favorite President peccadilloes and all until now, so I voted for Obama without hesitation and I am profoundly happy the Republican Party got the spanking it deserved for 8 years of misgovernment, or for purists out there 6 years of misgovernment and 2 of stonewalling.

    This being said, I am a bit on the cynical side regarding expecting big things from President Obama, but even if he does little things like throwing out the Bush era incompetent or corrupt people, allows science to decide where medicine goes and not ideology, mends relation with our allies and so on and it will be a huge improvement on the Bush years.

    Regarding sf, I do not think the election itself will have much of an impact immediately since for once there is quite a lag between writing novels and publishing them and for another I think that there won't be major discontinuities with the past. I mean Bush was bad, but still US was a democracy, people voted... it's not that we move from a totalitarian regime to a democratic one...

    Science, technology and their impact on society drive sf more than politics these days

  5. #5
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    We're not a political site, and we've often found that such passion can lead to issues, but I think we're using it rationally here: well done all.

    To depoliticise it a little, though Obama seems to be a motivating cause at the moment (and let's all hope, regardless of political persuasion or creed, that the rhetoric is met by positive action) the question is: what would any genre do given a more positive, more optimistic point of view?

    To think further perhaps we need to reflect on previous practice a little. SF has always, in its early days, reflected the opportunity of ideas. In the 1950's & 60s, certainly in the UK and the US, there were lots of Sf books pointing out the new frontier and that the way to progress and future enlightenment was through new ideas and new discovery. (Admittedly we also had our share of fears: alien invasion, human mismanagement and nuclear holocaust, for example) but there was a time when the future possibilities seemed infinite and optimistic. Arthur C Clarke is my most obvious thought here.

    So will we see a return to such a bright undiscovered future?

    In the mean time our hopes have been unrealised, our chances missed or messed up. The world today is a much more cynical and disillusioned one.

    Whilst we hope for the future we also hear 'credit crunch' - a phrase which, at least here in the UK, I hear more than once, every day at the moment.

    How can this be reflected in SF?

    We have cynical SF:technology gone wrong, misused or misplaced. We also have an SF with grand plans but limited funding. We have SF that has lost that idealistic sense of wonder to be replaced with tedium and the reality that space exploration/travel can/will be dull and beyond the reach of most earthbound humans.

    The question I believe we're thinking of here is whether renewed hope can change that.

    And it's not an easy one. There is so much negativity to change, but perhaps we could see a lot more outward looking SF where the optimism of the human spirit is equally met by an equally possible action.

    But, hand on heart, as much as I would like to see it, personally I'm not sure that there will be much change: at least to start with. Obama has admitted himself that the road will be long, the climb will be steep and it may take more than one term of office.

    So, sitting on the fence at the end of a lengthy post, I think it will depend on what actually happens to justify this optimism that will make a difference.

    Mark / Hobbit
    Mark

  6. #6
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    From a somewhat anachronistic perspective science fiction seemed to become more darker and pessimistic in the 70s. I have a tendency to think of the turning point as Joe Haldeman's The Forever War but I really didn't notice it at the time it is only in looking back. The 50s and 60s just had a more optimistic outlook about the future even with the cold war thing going.

    Like the difference between ST:TNG and ST;DS9.

    Oh no, another Black guy.

    I think we will have somewhat of an Obama effect almost regardless of how he does as president. The BIG PROBLEM is the economy but no one can really blame him for that. Professional economists were saying it is the worst thing since the Depression before he won. So even with that how bad can he look after GWB. I voted against that idiot twice and I thought it was obvious he was an idiot in 1999.

    Wait a minute? This is a science fiction movie.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Impact_(film)

    I just now thought of that. An asteroid is going to hit the planet. It's the end of the world.

    Run for your lives. Oh, there's nowhere to run.

    A Black president 10 years after a movie with a Black president. 11 years?

    Curiouser and curiouser.

    psik
    Last edited by psikeyhackr; November 6th, 2008 at 06:25 PM.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by kcf View Post
    I suspect that any change will be some time in coming, less than hoped for, and that itís too premature to see how science fiction will react, if it reacts at all. But, I still feel that hope and it cannot be denied.
    Well, it's been about two years. Do you still feel that hope? Other than selling less, how has science fiction reacted?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Arrgh View Post
    Well, it's been about two years. Do you still feel that hope? Other than selling less, how has science fiction reacted?
    Why oh why would you resurrect this thread? :P

  9. #9
    Orthodox Herbertian Omphalos's Avatar
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    I just hope that SF survives.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Shonsu View Post
    Why oh why would you resurrect this thread? :P
    I was worried that the Hope inspired changes were subtle and that I might have missed them.

  11. #11
    There is no Hope. Haven't you read enough science fiction to know by now that humanity is doomed.

    Have a good day, while you still have a full day to enjoy.

  12. #12
    Registered User
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    How about this for a topic. If politicians read more Scifi would they do better at their jobs?

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by kcf View Post

    I suspect that any change will be some time in coming, less than hoped for, and that itís too premature to see how science fiction will react, if it reacts at all. But, I still feel that hope and it cannot be denied.
    Another year has passed and I still haven't seen the Hope inspired changes. Anyone have links to some I may have missed?

  14. #14
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arrgh View Post
    Another year has passed and I still haven't seen the Hope inspired changes. Anyone have links to some I may have missed?
    No it's hopeless.

    http://grist.org/politics/obama-clim...t-a-joke-mitt/

    psik

  15. #15
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Now this is interesting:

    In this new book, Noga Applebaum surveys science fiction novels published for children and young adults from 1980 to the present, exposing the anti-technological bias existing within a genre often associated with the celebration of technology.
    http://www.tradebit.com/filedetail.p...ce-fiction-for

    psik

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