While reading an article about medieval science fiction, I came across this quote:
“By ‘scientifiction’,” Gernsback wrote, “I mean the Jules Verne, H G Wells and Edgar Allan Poe type of story – a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision … Not only do these amazing tales make tremendously interesting reading – they are always instructive.”Science fiction was around in medieval times – here’s what it looked like – James Paz and Carl Kears
I don’t write charming romances. I don’t think I could even know where to begin to write such a scientific romance.
But I am interested in charming science fiction, if only to read how it should read like. There isn’t much of anything that’s charming now, and I’m curious to discover what it is.
I still retain the knowledge of a sense of wonder: that’s more conveyed by the visuals than by my writing, but I still like the concept. It’s unfortunate that, like me, many writers have forgotten how to convey it and (unlike me) can’t cheat and have a visual artist get the idea across.
James goes on to explore the same point as made by David Hartwell in his book Age of Wonders (and quoted above) as regards the relationship of the ‘sense of wonder’ in SF to religion or the religious experience. He states that,
… in doing so, it [science fiction] can create a rival sense of wonder, which acts almost as a replacement religion: a religion for those deprived of all traditional certainties in the wake of Darwin, Einstein, Plank, Godel, and Heisenberg.:106Sense of Wonder, Wikipedia
“Certainties” isn’t the issue, “Meaning” is.
Pretty stars and complex galaxies and amazing cell structures are irrelevant if there is no meaning behind them. Who cares how much flash they have, if it’s all sound and fury, signifying nothing?
But I hold that life and creation does have meaning; that living things have more meaning than objects; and human life is more meaningful than other forms of mortal life on this world.
This is probably as charming and romantic as I’m going to get. Guess it’ll have to do.