May 18th, 2009

good mris pic

attempts at optimism

So. There is this anthology of optimistic near-future SF that's open to submissions, and I was thinking I should write something to send them, because We Like Optimistic SF Here.

Fine, good. So I opened up the huge and completely disorganized file I keep of titles and very thinly sketched story ideas. Found a title/idea combo I'd had years ago. Not Optimistic Near-Future SF per se. At least, not the way I interpret that particular anthology's guidelines. But for some reason it came with prose this time, and awhile later I had a completed short-short. Revise, send. Okay, good. No way out but through sometimes results in stories, is the moral of that one. Onwards.

Here's the thing: I would never have said that watching The Wire would encourage optimism in anybody, ever, except maybe in people who hadn't seen other skillfully done things on TV and thought that TV wasn't doing anything skillfully. But in combination with all the other cop shows I have watched with my workouts (Criminal Minds, Numb3rs, currently Life S1), it has warped my brain to go, "Hey! You know what we can do with optimistic near-future SF? We can do cop stories!"

I actually think this is a solution to the problem of utopias (or, less strenuously stated, the problem of optimistic futures). I do much better with optimistic stories in pessimistic futures, because there is something to overturn there; there is progress to be made. In generally upbeat futures, stuff has to go really wrong for the same level of ending satisfaction. I am generally unfond of the utopian trick of sending in someone who is not from there to mess things up, mostly because I believe that "things work really well as long as nothing changes" is equivalent to "things do not work well." But you can have a generally decent future society and people committing crimes in it and cops-or-equivalent catching them, and if the crimes are different enough, that's interesting itself. So maybe. Maybe not. We'll see if something makes itself the obvious choice or if I just have to pick something and go with it.

In other, unrelated news: did you know that Pushkin was once arrested on suspicion of being the anti-Christ? I didn't know that was an arresting offense, although in retrospect I suppose a ticket wouldn't really seem sufficient to a lot of people.