Funny how engaging with SF on this superficial level turns a lot of my fantasy-dependent opinions neatly on their heads.
I came across this post from Paolo Bacigalupi’s weblog (who I am more and more inclined to respect as both a writer and a person the more I read) about the use of superflous gadgetry for the purposes of worldbuilding in SF. At one point he refers to it as ‘window dressing’. At another, he references this other post by M. John Harrison, who I haven’t really read, but whose post makes me not particularly inclined to respect since he flies off the handle not a little. Anyway, the point is, back when I first read the M. John Harrison rant about “rah rah worldbuilding is superflous and description sucks as a storytelling tool” I *almost* completely disagreed. A huge percentage of my writing is entirely dependent on setting, description, long ass chunks of poetically stylized imagery. But now that I am actually trying to write in SF and trying to avoid having to completely reacquire all my storytelling tools while doing so, I come across this far more measured post on basically the same subject by Bacigalupi, and I’m like, “damn, I totally agree”. I don’t know how to write about nanotech implants and sentient tattoos and hypercellphones. I don’t know how to compose hip incomprehensible new terms derived from postulated future social trends and cultural collisions. And I don’t see that I need to. Then again, I’m not interested in writing far-future SF or cyberpunk. The only reason I ventured into SF at all is cause I wanted to take some cheap potshots at technology.
Perhaps that means my opinion on this subject isn’t worth squat. I’ll concede that.
But I have to say I do like what the proximity of SF has done to my perspective. I might hang a little bit closer to it in the future.