I'm calling this book the "season finale", as so far Starbleached hasn't been an officially serialized novel. This one is going to be hard. Oh, it's already written and re-reading it has me rather enthused. It's like OH MY GOD THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL HERE, and it seems to be rather shattering for several of the characters involved.
That said I'm having my usual WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING WHEN I WROTE THAT moments.
The most interesting area, for me, is trying to write what science fiction is supposed to be about. My theory behind writing is that human's primary language is symbolism. Language itself is a decision that a word equals a thing, and there's no evidence to suggest why the first person to speak decided that the great-great root ancestor of "tree" meant tree. Stories connect to us on the deepest level through symbolism. Which, ironically, loses a lot of its power when we discover that symbolism is there. It's an unconscious language, not intended to be articulated. We understand on an unconscious level that item X is symbolic of leadership, or love, or defiance. We do not need to understand it on a conscious level. A writer's job is to first write the damn thing, and let whatever unconscious symbolism they've got in their own brain plop onto the page, and then consciously craft everything into something meaningful...and the best works are those where the reader never understands the symbolic language being shoved under their brain's front door. The true art of the craft, in my humble uneducated opinion, is in letting the great majority of the workmanship slide by unnoticed. A watch is not intended to be viewed from the back, but from the front.
Besides. The greatest value of story is not story, but the planting of ideas. And ideas spread the farthest when we think they are our own.
Anyhoo, I theorize that the power of a fantasy story is...well, a "this is who we are" emotion. Our inner life ripped open and painted with elves and dragons and magic. The dragon is alcoholism or racism or fear, or whatever it is that we have to fight through our whole life. And we become fans of a fantasy work when something in it speaks to our inner life and calls to us. When it fails to connect, we go "dragons? What's the big deal about dragons?"
Science-fiction is "this is where we're going". That's why science is a big part of science-fiction (no shit) because it's such a big part of our modern life. But the real power of a sci-fi story is that idea that this is our future. This is where we're going, and if we want to change it or realize it, we have to do something about it. I find it very telling that, right around the time of the Great Recession here in the states (back in 08) we canceled several very optimistic sci-fi television series and replaced them with several highly pessimistic ones. I personally felt that was a collective shift, like we couldn't imagine a positive future and we lost our enjoyment of positive things (because depressed people love misery. Speaking from personal experience. Nothing hijacks your mind and taste quite so profoundly as a bad mood)
...look, the name of the blog is Ramblings of a Creative Double Dipper. It's my space. I get to be as dumb and fake profound as I want.
Anyway, that's something I try to keep in the back of my mind. Where are we heading, as a species and as individuals? What can we expect to happen? In the process of doing this, naturally I'm going to get most of it wrong. I cannot write a story and make it literary. You don't want to see what that looked like. But hopefully I can manage to scrape together enough meaning to make it enjoyable.
Oh, and you guys are awesome on toast. Just wanted to re-enforce that.