My weekly post at Mad Genius Club is up. The camera battery was dead at the con last night, so sadly I don’t have any visuals for you today. I don’t even have much of a brain yet, that was a very long day… Look elsewhere for wit and erudition, ’cause I’m all out.
The First Reader has an excellent post up as a guest at According to Hoyt today.
Humans are a tribal species. We all have tribes we belong to and resonate with. That doesn’t mean the tribe is monolithic for us, just that those in various tribes have similar views on various subjects. For example I fit into the MilSf tribe rather handily. i like the genre and communicate well with most of the tribe members. While most of us will read some varying amount of social consciousness SF we are not driven by its precepts. If the social consciousness drowns out the story we are unhappy. Similarly if the gun geeking that can be a part of MilSF overpowers the story line it will drive away the social conscious readers.
The problem then becomes how much is too much. It really depends on how powerful the story is. Speaking for myself the social consciousness in Scalzi’s Old Mans War was more than covered by the gripping nature of the MilSF elements. I know others who felt his message got in the way. Joe Haldeman’s Forever War actually had more message but had fewer people bothered by the messaging. On the other end of the scale we have If You Were A Dinosaur My love. Which was all message and not even remotely SF by my standards. Those of my tribe use it as an example of what is wrong with the other tribe.
The problem with this is that tribes have traditionally gone to war over differences. We in SF are little different. The ones who favor hardware and story are engaged in a long running battle with those who favor message. The war has had gruesome casualties. Any number of authors have been driven to other genres, even quit writing rather than engage. Neither side seems to be able to read what the other side actually writes. We filter through our own prejudices and don’t necessarily even understand what the other side is saying.