It's the story, stupid!
Wherein I discover the world of Mundane SF Futzing around with Technorati tags this AM, I found a link to writer Ian McDonald's lengthy discussion of Mundane SF. As I mentioned recently, I always seem to be months if not years behind the times, and this is not exception. So if I betray my ignorance of the issues in this brief position piece, remember: you cannot embarrass me with my lack of knowledge because I have no shame. But you knew that. Mundane SF comes to us from writer Geoff Ryman. (The linked page will lead you to the Mundane Manifesto as well as Ryman's blog.) In essence, Ryman espouses a theory of SF which sticks strictly (think Madame Madge Dominatrix 'strictly') to the realm of the possible. No more faster-than-light travel, no wormhole travel, no interstellar trade with aliens, no time travel -- nothing fun. It's diamond-Hard SF. If you write SF, Ian McDonald's thoughtful discussion (linked above) is well worth your time. Here's the line that had me applauding: "It’s not just the Mundane Manifesto is totally unnecessary to produce the type of science-fiction it celebrates (one very very much worth celebrating, and that is due it’s time in the sun) , it’s that the genre has a much richer palate of colours. It’s a poor manifesto that would venerate Verne (tech-speculation) but consigns much of H.G. Wells’ core texts to the ‘bonfire of stupidities’ (interplanetary war, aliens, time-travel…). To me, one of the strengths of SF is that it is an allegorical literature: parables and myths of our age." (emphasis mine) A few of you out there have read my stuff; you folks will recognize why something like a "Mundane Manifesto" gets my blood pressure up. I could sally forth against Mundane SF, but as an unpublished author my words don't carry much clout. YET. (Muwahahaha.) So, here's one small voice making a pitch for reason. The object of writing is entertainment. There. I've said it. We're not politicians and we're not social planners. You can't blame us for fostering an irresponsible attitude towards the environment. (So goes the claim of the Mundaners -- by willy-nilly planet-hopping, we encourage the idea that we can rape this planet and move on to the next.) We're performance artists, nothing more. I'm not saying there's anything bad about Mundane SF. I'm sure it has a healthy audience of readers -- all those hard SF wonks who jeered when Han Solo used 'parsec' as a unit of time. Just leave us allegorists alone, will you? D.