Monday, August 22, 2005

Fantastical Thoughts

There is a short but thoughtful article at Alternet about evil in the fantasy novels of J.K. Rowling and Jacqueline Carey. The author suggests that we tend to think of science fiction as the best genre at portraying our angst about our increasingly technological lives. But, she concludes,

It turns out that fantasy, rather than science fiction, may be the genre that best captures the vicissitudes of our relentlessly high-tech, security-obsessed age. By casting doubt on what constitutes evil, both Rowling and Carey have written novels about magical realms that are, ironically, more realistic than many US newscasts.
I think in many ways she is right. Science fiction seems to be falling behind in its moral thoughtfulness. I'm not saying it isn't there, I'm just saying that it seems to be more excited about the science, especially the idea of the singularity, than it is about whether or not it is right or what the moral consequences might be. Fantasy, though there is much chaff among the wheat, seems to be able to speak more and more to our worries and questions. It seems that it is able to examine the nature of evil and its motives, our relationship (or lack of) with God, racial issues, environmental issues and a whole slew of other morals and values. I just don't see it happening in scifi like it used to. Maybe I'm wrong and I just don't grok scifi these days. If that's the case, I'd happily appreciate being pointed in the right direction. This post brought to you on Ray Bradbury's 85th birthday. Fahrenheit 451 still gives me chills. If you haven't read it, what have you been waiting for?