It took me a half century to figure out that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. I didn’t want to write just anything, either. I wanted to write science fiction. Why? Because after reading The Star Beast, by Robert A. Heinlein, I was hooked on the stars.
Humans walked on the moon a couple of years before I was introduced to Heinlein’s writing and great things had come out of NASA. We reached for the planets and I wanted to be part of that. Unfortunately, life gets in the way and it took me a long time find my way back, but I never lost my interest in space travel, aliens, and science. Along the way I read Ann McCaffrey, Asimov, Niven, and countless more. Their tales of dragons, aliens and far away societies kept me coming back for more stories of our potential future.
Sometimes when someone asks me what I want to write and I say science fiction, I get responses like, “Oh, like Spock and space travel? I don’t read that stuff.” They can’t connect with non-humans and unrealistic things like other habitable planets. There are no such things, right? What they don’t realize is the people and aliens in the stories have the same problems as we do. They get cold or hot, they are hungry, they seek love, they’re not motivated, they are homesick, they are lost, they are persecuted because they are different, or any number of problems that plague the human condition now.
A story is about the struggle of a character or group of characters. Does it matter that the struggle takes place on a different world? Does it matter that the character isn’t the boy or girl next door? A good story is a good story even with warp drive and planets with five moons. Not only do we cheer our hero on, sometimes we wish we could be part of that world; worlds that have time travel, laser guns, or replicators.
In Star Trek, do you remember those simple little communicators? In 1966 did you ever think you would own something like that? Okay, so this assumes you were around in 1966 and watched the series the first time around. I was a kid back then and the technology was as fantastical as being transported in a beam of light. Rush forward to 2015. Our cell phones have more computing power than the room sized computers of the 1960’s. We don’t have replicators yet. Or do we? 3-D printers are becoming more common and someday, you won’t go to the store and buy a container to store your holiday decorations in, you’ll plug the details into a computer and your 3-D printer will create the perfect sized container for your wrapping paper.
Science fiction helps fuel the imagination of curious people. Faster than light travel isn’t here yet, but it exists in the written word. Scientists are working on the problem as I write this. Researchers are working on battery issues, food issues, medical issues and a vast number of things that will enable us to reach for the stars. Writers keep writing stories of worlds where cancer doesn’t exist or where we have learned to live with each other no matter what race or gender we are. Those stories trigger the imaginations of a better place and isn’t that what we all strive for?
So yes, I like to write science fiction and hope the stories keep coming. I hope the scientists are pushing the bounds of what we know and we keep coming up with new and different technologies in both the fiction world and the world of science and technology.