The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, October 19, 2006

More thoughts on this weekend's lectures…

More thoughts on the weekend lectures…

The SF/Fantasy lecture will be easy.  The basic principles are the same in all genre writing, but there are rules that govern the field of the fantastic.  I really like Heinlein’s basic principles of “What If, If Only, If This Goes On.”  After presenting them, we’ll talk about a some of the movies and books that have used them well—and probably a few cases where the creative folks completely missed the mark.

After that, I’ll touch on another Heinlein idea: That to really write science fiction, you should have a base knowledge that runs all the way from Physics to Psychology and Philosophy.  This is great fun, because the audience will always have folks who have no idea what I’m talking about, and think that SF is just slapping space-ships or a talking blob of ooze into a regurgitated soap-opera structure.

Ultimately, SF is generally about the collision of ideas and world views.  It deals with the nature of human consciousness and the cultures that consciousness has created worldwide.  To extrapolate outward to new worlds, it is best to have some grasp of the one we live in—and of its history.

Needless to say, it is probably impossible to create such extrapolative patterns without expressing your own view of the nature of man, the origins of thought and creativity, the innate perfectability of the human spirit.  Does one go with the Great Man hypothesis, or are waves of change more general and collective?

The politics in SF tend to be rather socially conservative (although they are often in denial about this), and narrow.  But within that narrow corridor some of the greatest ideas have been explored, expressed, and initiated.  It’s a worthwhile field to plow.

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