August 4th, 2007

writing everywhere

Domestic and brain-training.

markgritter got home last night, yay! Frontier lied to me about his plane, though, so I had an hour in the airport waiting. I was finishing the book I'd brought when he walked up. Timing, as they say.

And once again this year, Mark's timing was impeccable: he was gone the week the tomatoes started to go nuts. We only have three tomato plants, but they're producing like crazy. If anybody knows of a south Mpls or suburban shelter that takes fresh garden produce for the homeless and hungry, we may get to that point this year. Or we may just make a lot of soup and salsa and give tomatoes to everyone we see. Beware, bewaaaare!

I was wiggling my fingers in kind of a scary way there. Sorry you couldn't see it.

Anyway, clever, tasty tomato recipes are welcome here.

Quite awhile ago, when I had one of my posts where the book had eaten my head for a bit, rose_and_ivy said, "I've been there, but not with a story. How did you train your brain that way?" And I've been thinking about it, trying to get at the real answer, especially as I suspect that I am not very far from another, longer brain-eaten period, so I may not have my head up to think about this sort of thing for awhile now if I don't do it right away.

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writing everywhere

What I want, the SF version.

For some years I have wanted more science fiction that's optimistic in tone without being utterly disconnected from the current situation. I would like more upbeat-cool futures we could get to from here. It's not that I don't like dystopias or grim futures, and it's not that I'll refuse to read them. It's that I don't find myself lacking in that area. Ditto the stories that are either far-future enough or alternate-timeline enough that there is a chasm between here and there that may or may not be unbridgeable but certainly doesn't look bridgeable soon: they can be great fun, they can be good stories, but I'm not lacking in them. The bridges that are difficult for me are the social ones, more than the technological ones -- I don't think Mundane SF is the solution to this problem in any generalized way, although probably some works of Mundane SF will fit the bill for me. What I mean here is, FTL all you want, but don't pretend that we have a working space program at the moment or, y'know, in my lifetime. Alternate social structures, absolutely; alternate social structures that we have painlessly established in twenty years, pull the other one.

I was finally able to put words on this desire when I rewatched Galaxy Quest for the umpteenth time in May: the Thermians have taken something ridiculous and in parts frankly stupid and made it into something beautiful and functional. That's our job here, people. A lot of what we have right now is ridiculous and in parts frankly stupid. We're trying to get from that to beautiful and functional. (And funny and kind, ideally, but I'm already asking a lot of this future thing.) I don't need these tales to be predictive. I don't need them to be purely extrapolative rather than speculative. What I mostly want is acknowledgment that, yes, ridiculous and in parts frankly stupid, and I want to see glimpses, little side notes out of the corner of one's eye while one reads a really good story, of how the heck it got from that to the nifty shiny fun future setting.

The thing is, as I said, I've wanted this for some years. But in the last few months, as I've been working on What We Did to Save the Kingdom*, some of the connected-but-clair** SF stuff has been starting to fall together. I can see how to do some of the short stories I've wanted to do. I can see not only what I want to read but how to write some of what I want to read in this area.

This is, I scarcely need say, kind of exciting. What We Did is what I consider high fantasy, by which I mean fantasy with a lot of politics and magic. I think other people mean other things by high fantasy. This is not a quest fantasy. It has no elves (not even under other names), nor dragons, nor wizards. It is mathy, and there are barricades in it. I am uncommonly fond of novels with barricades, the kind that come with peasant uprisings. The last book I wrote indulged my lifelong fondness for sea serpents; this one has barricades. I have a little knit sea serpent on my desk, but no one need feel obliged to knit me a barricade. Aaaaanyway. I can't tell why on earth working on this book should have this effect on SF stories of a type I've wanted to write. But at this point, I'll take it. Why not? Strange are the ways of writerbrain.

*I'm still pretty sure that the book is going to be called something other than What We Did to Save the Kingdom, but that's the necklace's title, and I don't have another title for it, so here we are.

**As opposed to noir, a distinction coined by truepenny or at least introduced to me by her.