Did you know that NPR (National Public Radio) did a survey back in 2011 to discover what people were reading in the “science fiction genre?” This created their list of the Top 100 Science Fiction/Fantasy books (even though I’m not enthused about the addition of the “fantasy” piece). Out of their Top Ten, only three are still alive and writing — Orson Scott Card, George R.R. Martin and Neil Gaiman. Of course, I love seeing the work of many of my favorite writers remaining on top: JRR Tolkien, Frank Herbert, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov to name a few. However, where are the new writing explorers?
Self-published author, J.M. Erickson has come upon the scene in recent years with some excellent writings. His most recent, Future Prometheus: Emergence and Evolution, is an excellent beginning to a series that explores the edge of the familiar and the unknown terrain of possibility—a world where the science of today has warped into something totally unexpected. This is visionary, futuristic, science/technology-based writing that compels the reader to turn the page and think about the possibilities. Happily, this author has the understanding and background that allows his imagination to explore these “what if” scenarios. I applaud Mr. Erickson in his writing career, in his choice to self-publish and in his willingness to think and write “outside the box.”
It is my hope that more true Science Fiction writers will step out and accept the legacy to explore human identity, national and world politics, social and cultural paradoxes within this literary framework. Our lives are changing (evolving) by the minute and we need writers to offer other choices than the ones currently being made. As Frank Herbert (The Dune series) said, “The gift of words is the gift of deception and illusion.” That concept needs to be deeply explored allowing us to picture an illusion that exposes deceptions and just might show us the way to better possibilities.
IT’S IN THE STARS WHERE oh where are today’s true Science Fiction writers? In my youthful days, I cut my reading-teeth on such marvelous other-world adventures as 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (by Jules Verne), War of the Worlds (by H.G. Wells) and John Carter the mysterious traveler to Mars/Barsoom. With each impossible John Carter action and invention created by author Edgar Rice Burroughs, my wonderment increased. Yet, the present-day genre of “science fiction” now includes other facets that (in my opinion) detract from the legacy left to us by these great authors.
The specific definition of the genre of Science Fiction is “…imaginative content such as futuristic settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster-than-light travel, parallel universes and extraterrestrial life. It often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations and has been called a literature of ideas. Authors commonly use science fiction as a framework to explore identity, morality, social structure, politics and other literary themes.” And there you have it! That is what I’m looking for in my Science Fiction books today.