I think Sarah Hoyt is on to something:
For too long writing what we do has been considered verboten or at best “stupid.” By revealing the philosophical underpinnings of our way of writing, we will hopefully convince some reviewers and critics to consider that our way is as valid as what has been accepted as expression in Science Fiction and Fantasy (and other genres as well, because at least some of these apply there too.) More importantly, by codifying and giving our principles a name, we will free other people to try it out. And by linking our blogs and cross publicizing, we will perhaps confer upon our congeners a little advantage that, in these transformational times, might be enough to – if not surpass – at least stand up well next to the establishment mode of writing.
The part about “linking and cross-publicizing” is akin to something Carl and I have discussed off and on over the past few years, based on my experience with People’s Press Collective (which does exactly what I think she’s referring to here).
The bigger part, though, is the set of (draft) guidelines she lays out for participation in this literary movement — in a nutshell:
- The story is conclusive – “someone wins”;
- Villains are crafted, not cast by type (racial, ethnic, gender, species);
- Ditto for heroes – “identity group” no more makes the hero than the villain;
- Story first, “message” after;
- Stories can touch on timeless human themes without serving quotidian present-day politics;
- A story concerns events – something happens, or has happened, or will happen;
- A writer’s job is to entertain, first – other motivations are secondary;
- A writer respects the buyer (i.e.: reader) of his stories by giving him quality and entertainment value that make him want to keep reading;
- Science, technology, commerce, and guns are not inherently evil;
- Envy is ugly – witnessing another author’s success, respect it as success, respect his readers for buying what they like, and don’t snipe about what they should like.
A few of our readers might quibble (have quibbled) about #4, but I think In the Shadow of Ares and its in-work sequels fit.
This is a good exercise, and I’m glad someone with some clout is pulling it together. A literary stream with an optimistic, human-positive, technology-positive thrust is needed. Indeed, the need for it was apparent back in August 2001 when Carl and I got the idea to write books in that vein, and when I started getting turned off by the negativity, misanthropy, and nihilism I was seeing in Analog and elsewhere.
UPDATE: a valid suggestion here, which might be phrased as: Don’t spread a single story into two or more books. Make each book in a series a worthwhile story in its own right, and stop serializing if you’re just milking the characters/setting.
Good advice, and something we’re trying to do with the Ares sequels.