Science fiction doesn’t have to be gloomy, does it?

The future can be worrying to consider at the best of times. But with a global economic crisis looming, a war on terrorism and the continuing threat of climate change to ponder, the future looks bleak indeed. It’s at times like these that people seek escape in the pages of popular fiction. But anyone looking for a better future in science fiction is in for a shock.

Read more on the Guardian book blog


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

6 thoughts on “Science fiction doesn’t have to be gloomy, does it?

  1. Happier SF is getting to be a bee in your bonnet, isn’t it? Not that I’m arguing; I like hoping for a happier, sunnier, less precarious future. Anyway, am tickled to see what a discussion you started on the Guardian (one of my favourite papers, by the way). Also, am curious to see you kick off the charge. I want to read a non-gloomy SF story by you, Mr. Walter.


  2. Yeah, that ocured to me when the article went live. I thought ‘You’ve gone and opened your yap again Walter, now you’re gooing to have to put up or shut up’. So now I’m thinking about stories of utopian futures and ways to put conflict into them.


  3. I don’t see why it has to be utopian futures. I mean, imagining a positive future doesn’t necessarily require ignoring the inevitable foibles of human character. Even if we manage to get everything else right–distribution of resources, politics, environment, etc.– we’re still going to be ordinary people, unless you fiddle with that as well, and then you’re starting to get on shaky ground regarding the happiness of that future…


  4. Well, one way to get conflict is to focus on aspects of day to day living that the utopian elements won’t affect much. Pacific Edge might be a tree-hugging, small is beautiful utopia but the lead character’s main problems are romantic, not economic.


  5. The natural response is: what about the story then makes it SF? If the Sfictional elements are peripheral to the actual story, does it really need to be SF?

    The trick there I suppose is to integrate the SF elements to the point where they may be a non-dystopic complication or solution.



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