Monday, May 31, 1999

my angle is...

From: anonymous

First of all I'd like to say that this site is very good; it's friendly, well organised, and i reckon it would get anyone interested in your work who happened to see it on the web as it did for me. Keep up the good work.

I am a student at the University of Derby in England and i'm in my third and last year studying a Creative Writing course. As part of my final projects i have to write an article on writing and the responsibilities of the writer, and my chosen subject is science fiction, and more specifically, the responsibilities of a sci-fi writer.

My angle for the article is:

Do science fiction writers have a responsibility to use their unique genre to explore serious social issues as Ray Bradbury did in Fahrenheit 451?

Bradbury's novel is merely a starting point; an example from which i want to discuss sci-fi's responsibilities. Bradbury produced a work which highlighted society's ills and painted a picture of a possible nightmare future, and this was made all the more notable as he wrote it during the period of American history known as McCarthyism in 1953, when censorship reigned and free thinking was thought of as suspicious. He used the future setting to attack McCarthyism and warn society how things might go, and i'm asking do sci-fi writers feel responsible to use the genre to ask difficult questions and examine important aspects of society.

With this angle in mind i would be very grateful if you could answer the following questions:

1. WITH ALL IT'S DEVICES, SUCH AS TIME TRAVEL, SPACE EXPLORATION, FIRST CONTACT, ROBOTS, FUTURE WORLDS, ETC, IS SCIENCE FICTION A GOOD GENRE TO EFFECTIVELY DEAL WITH SOCIAL ISSUES LIKE RAY BRADBURY DID? DOES IT OFFER MORE SCOPE TO TACKLE IDEAS AND ISSUES THAN OTHER GENRES?
2. WHY HAVE YOU AND DO YOU WRITE SCIENCE FICTION RATHER THAN OTHER GENRES? WAS IT A CONSCIOUS DECISION ORIGINALLY?
3. WHAT RESPONSIBLITIES DOES THE SCIENCE FICTION WRITER HAVE TO HIS OR HER READERSHIP AND IN GENERAL?
4. DO YOU THINK THAT SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO USE THEIR UNIQUE GENRE TO EXAMINE AND EXPLORE CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL CONCERNS AND ISSUES AS RAY BRADBURY DID IN 1953?

If you could give each question some thought, both on a personal level and a more general one, i'd greatly appreciate it. After reading your replies to others and the general information on this site, i would really value your opinion, as a writer on the subject. Please find time to answer the questions as you thoughts would help immensely.

Finally, as my deadline approaches very rapidly i must plead with you to be fairly quick with your response. I would be so grateful if you could reply within the next few days or at least sometime this week.

I'd like to thank you in advance for taking up your valuable time to help me with my studies. I hope to hear from you very soon.

My angle for this response is: Do students have a responsibility to do their own work instead of asking others to drop everything and do it for them? With this angle in mind I'd be very grateful if you'd pay attention, immediately, no matter what else you might be doing, to my reply.

If you take the trouble to read my essays, particularly "Living Fiction and Storybook Lives," and my interviews, for example the one with Holland SF, you will find more than enough to answer your questions for yourself. Go read what I've already written on the subject. It would mean taking notes, and thinking, and synthesising and presenting information coherently. It would mean doing some nasty work.

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