I’ve been reading a lot of science-fiction lately. Mostly dystopian in theme, from a variety of countries and eras.
While the ‘must be busy’ part of my brain tells me that I could be doing something more constructive, these stories are engaging me for several reasons, resulting in time actually very well spent.
It’s easy to disparage ‘genre’ fiction, but a lot of these tales are very well told, carefully considered and – yes – following in the ancient Bardic tradition. They satirise the world in which they were written, showing extremes of human behaviour and the potential consequences.
When reading pre-1970s pulp SF, hindsight gives us a certain viewpoint – the technology of The Twenty-First Century can appear ludicrous, and the ‘action’ laughable. But people are still people. Relationships and characters reflect those known to the author.
History teaches us lessons. Future history plays with that idea. Skilful storytellers demonstrate possibilities, to both entertain and make us think. As with most media, we get out what we put in… but the dime novels of the past are now themselves valuable documents. Is our present better or worse than their dream?
We hear the voices of our ancestors, and consider the voices of the future. And hope that it’s not too much like 2000AD.