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.