If I wanted to know how horrible this world can be, I’d watch the news. Like I said before, when I read, I read books to remind myself of the good things that can exist in this world. That’s not to say I don’t read stories where bad things happen. In some of my favourite books, terrible things happen. I just don’t get why some people like to read books that are dark and despairing from beginning to read, without a ray of hope anywhere.
Like dystopian science fiction.
We had to read The Chrysalids in school. I admit, there might’ve been a miniscule ray of hope at the end. But it was doom and gloom for the other two hundred and thirty-nine pages, as if John Wyndham was doing his best to convince me I’d hate to live in a world devastated by nuclear bombs. Hey, I wasn’t arguing. I won’t even start to argue with that, so why act like you need a whole novel to bang that point home to me? This is why I have such a love-hate relationship with science fiction. The idea of writing about an imaginary future is neat. But does it say something about us that we’re so incredibly pessimistic?
The consensus is, if humanity has a future, we’re going to be struggling out of the ruins of civilization somewhere. I suppose this isn’t an unreasonable assumption – the Roman Empire collapsed, after all. But I think it says something about humanity that we’re so convinced things are getting worse. That no matter what new thing humanity invents, it will somehow contribute to our downfall.
Oh well. Utopian science fiction does exist, apparently. In fact, here’s an author who thinks we should write more of it, and inspire inventors and future engineers. (As if there’s anything left to invent, now that we’ve come up with the iPad?) Maybe I should go read some of that.
What about you – can you handle depressing fiction?