I read a lot. Like a LOT, a lot. My Goodreads challenge for last year tells me I read something like 110 books but that doesn’t include the fiction or comics magazines I subscribe to or my re-reads (I have an unfortunate habit of rereading Terry Pratchett on a semiregular basis). Probably about 90% of what I read is a) fiction, b) in english, c) stuff containing a significant speculative element d) not epic fantasy. Probably about another 8% on top of that is non-fiction and the the rest is… well, everything else. So you could say I have a very narrowly defined comfort zone and I very much keep to it. But occasionally I do venture out in search of different stuff mostly in my quest to become a better writer as well as a more well-read individual.
What I often come away with is how hopeful SFF fiction is. Yes, even the dystopic stuff. Rare is the science fiction or fantasy novel where the character is just a pawn of their own destiny. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, can you?
In SFF the characters make choices and what they choose effects the world around them. We are living a time when everything around us seems to be saying that it’s all too big, no one individual can change anything. Ave bossa nova, similis bossa seneca, to steal Terry Pratchett’s expression. Raise your hand if you really believed that Obama would close Guantanamo.
And yet even in the horrors we imagine in terms of oppressive governments, genetically engineered monsters, death, and torture, there is always one man who can make a difference. And often in the SFF sphere the most influential person isn’t a man at all. For all that diversity in SFF is still a problem area, the situation is often much better than in the mainstream.
So yeah, here’s to hope.