They tell us that if we want to feel happy, we need to look happy. It’s been shown that the mere act of putting a smile on your face, whether you feel it at the time or not, will actually affect your mood. So what does reading dystopias do to us? I really like this by Michael Solana “Where the ethos of punk is rooted in its subversion of the mainstream, famed cyberpunk William Gibson’s Neuromancer is no longer the flagbearer of gritty, edgy, counter-cultural fiction; ‘life will suck and then we’ll die’ is now a truism, and we have thousands of authors prophesying our doom with attitude, as if they’re all alone out there in tinfoil hats shouting at the top of their lungs what nobody else will. Yet they are legion. In the Twenty-first Century, the most punk rock thing that you can be is happy, or—and this is really crazy—“happy ever after.”
When the going gets rough, the readers among us turn away from reality and look between the covers of a book for some escape from reality. Why on earth would anyone but the deliberately sadomasochistic seek out ‘life sucks’ literature? Without hope, I don’t want to even look at it. I have enough to worry about without adding stress to my imaginary worlds.
What if robots come to life and kill us all? What if nanotech turns the world into grey goo? What if the government regulates every move we make of every day? What if?
Taking counsel of our fears can lead to becoming paralyzed by them. What if we develop interstellar travel, and give future generations new frontiers to explore? What if by the deaths of brave men, the road to the stars is paved? What if that new nanotech takes some of the worries and cares of the world away? What if?
I wrote over at Mad Genius Club today about romance, and little stories. Not every story has to be about saving the world. Sometimes a small, slight story, can carry with it a grain of warmth, until a fire is kindled. Warm and fuzzy doesn’t have to be an indictment of a tale. Everyone loves a kitten, after all, and with one sleeping on your chest, reading that doom-and-gloom end of the world becomes that much easier. Some stories are kitten paws, and raindrops on roses, and a few of my favorite things… and they end happily ever after, with the human race stronger, wiser, and the richer for having more love in it. Human Wave fiction, where the good guys win, and the world goes on, a little better.