There is a sense you can get in some quarters that Sci-Fi that isn’t serious (Hard Sci-Fi) is (in some gatekeeper way) invalid. I’m calling BS on that right here. Soft Sci-Fi is still Sci-Fi. Fans of the hardest Sci-Fis might not like it but the world does not turn on what you like or dislike.
Serious Sci-Fi is all well and good. Serious Sci-Fi will always be important. But not all Sci-Fi needs to be serious. When did having fun start being the enemy? What is the world without a little playfulness? Boring. That’s what it is.
In this post, I am going to make the case that:
- Silly Sci-Fi is valid Sci-Fi.
- Sci-Fi as an escape is perfectly fine.
- We shouldn’t let the gatekeepers determine what we write.
- No, really. Screw gatekeepers. Put them in your story and blow them out of the nearest airlock.
- It is time to lock cynicism in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet inside a disused lavatory with a sign don’t the door saying, “Beware of the Leopard”.
Silly Sci-Fi is valid too
There is something to be said for Sci-Fi that is just fun. Silly even. Silly and fun Sci-Fi is the gateway genre that will lead people to the harder and more sciency Sci-Fi. Or not. There’s no rule that says that just because you like your Sci-Fi as hard as concentrated unobtainium the rest of us can’t enjoy something a bit more fanciful.
The reason that Sci-Fi is what it is today is because of soft pulp Sci-Fi. My first taste of Sci-fi was shoddily filmed with wobbly cardboard sets. The stories were daft sometimes, sure. But you know what, they captured my imagination. They made me want to write my own adventures.
It is a lie that good writing is serious writing. Good writing is whatever silly adventure that you read because it makes you happy. Life is too short not to be happy at least some of the time.
Bring back fun stories.
Sci-Fi should sometimes be an escape
Daft old Doctor Who episodes let me believe that there can be more to this world than just the hum-drum of everyday life. There were times when the imagination that those old TV programs awoke was what got me through some dark times.
Sometimes, that TV program, that book, that adventure is what keeps us hanging on. I believe that to deny someone that escape is wrong.
There are days when a darker and gritter version of now is too much. That’s when soft, silly, fun, and daft Sci-Fi comes to our rescue.
As Sci-Fi fans, we must not put limits on what is or is not allowed. As authors, we each have the potential in us for Silly-n-Fun Sci-Fi adventures that could be what enables someone to enjoy a long commute. Silly-n-Fun Sci-Fi that gives someone a moment away from the headaches of life.
Don’t we all deserve that moment of escape?
Writers of the world, embrace your Silly-n-Fun Sci-Fi plots
Maybe our Silly-n-Fun Sci-Fi won’t foretell the next great technology. But so what? Do we only write to be right or do we write to tell interesting stories? Stories only we can tell. It is time to tell those stories.
There is already enough super serious stuff in the world right now. Do you know what there is a shortage of though? There is a shortage of fun and playful Sci-Fi. There are not enough fresh voices bringing us fun adventures because of the lie that good writing is serious writing.
If you are reading this, I want you to make a promise. Not to me but to yourself. Promise to write something just because it seems fun. Not to win any literary awards. Not to impress your agent. Just have fun with a story.
Bring back fun stories.
Beware of the Leopard
It has become all too fashionable to be cynical. All our heroes have to be dark and edgy. The world must be grim. And no one had better have any fun at all. Otherwise, the literature police will come and arrest you or something.
We don’t need another cynical author with darker and edgier characters. What we need is something fun. Something to make us smile. Something to bring a little joy to our readers.
We need fewer byronic heroes and more people finding that the council display department is in a silly place.
The world needs more brave captains. More pop-culture aware wierdoes going on adventures. I want to read about two mates flying through space in a garden shed with a forcefield around it. I want time travel. I want dinosaurs and I want a few exploding planets, please. Where are the stories where the important MacGuffin was back at home all along?
I want silly. I want daft. I want fun. I want Saturday morning cartoon adventures. I want a fresh cup of tea. But most of all I want fun. The world would be too dark without fun. We need fun. Now more than ever.
What happened to those adventures where there never was any doubt that the characters would arrive home safe and sound in time for a cup of tea before the next adventure starts? When did writing fun Sci-Fi become wrong?
Bring back fun stories.
Some sort of conclusion thing
The point that I have so verbosely been making is this: We need more Silly-n-Fun Sci-Fi.
We need more for Silly-n-Fun everything but especially Sci-Fi.
This is my challenge to you. Read more Silly-n-Fun Sci-Fi. Just enjoy daft adventures unironically and without the slightest guilt. Let us stop being ashamed of our weirdness. Let us be proud of our love of fun.
For my fellow writers, I have another challenge. Write something not to be the next big thing but because a few other weirdos like you and me will enjoy reading it. Bring back fun stories as only you can.
And when you find something fun or you make something fun. Please share it with me. I too like fun. I am proud to loudly declare that I love Silly-n-Fun Sci-Fi.
Use as needed. Summary: I grant you permission to replicate this post unchanged as long as it features a prominent link back to this page. Ideally with a rel-canonical if you know how.
Legal version The Case for Silly-n-Fun Sci-Fi: A Manifesto by Matthew D. Brown is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0