Why I Write Science Fiction

This week, I'll be talking about why I write dystopian fiction--I mean--post-apocalyptic fiction--wait, science fiction! for teenagers.

Before we start, is everyone clear on dystopian fiction? Because my Dad wasn't. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Dystopia is defined as a society characterized by poverty, squalor, or oppression. Dystopias usually extrapolate elements of contemporary society and function as a warning against some modern trend, often the threat of oppressive regimes in one form or another. 

So, to summarize, dystopian societies exhibit a fatal flaw, much like a character might. A dystopian society might sprout from a post-apocalyptic world, which is the case with my current novel. But to be clear, the dystopian aspect of my novel is very, very minor. I mention all of this because dystopia has become a bit of a buzz word. Back to why I choose to write about messed up societies in the future... 

I have always loved imaginative fiction. Throughout my life, I've read fantasy from accessible, paranormal titles to high fantasy authors like George RR Martin. Science fiction, however, scared me. Sure, I dabbled, reading bits of Heinlein my brother left lying around the house, or Orwell, when I had to for school. But I never dove in like I did with fantasy books. Then came two pivotal stories. 

First, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. Those of you who've read it know the genius that is this roller-coaster ride. Ender's Game didn't blind me with science (sorry. had to.) Character and story ruled in Ender's Game, not gadgetry or sociological complexities. Card created a world that was fantastic, but plausible and accessible. To me, this was an awakening. A fantasy story that could someday be true. That read like the best page-turners. Call me naive, but I didn't know science fiction could be so much fun. 

Second, I read MT Anderson's FEED. This book is entertaining and brilliantly written, but what I appreciate most are the questions that linger months--years--after I read it. This novel showed me the beauty of what ifs, much as Katy described in her blog about historical fiction. FEED had me wondering, what if we became inextricably dependent on technology? (brb. My iPhone's ringing. OK. I'm back.) What if commercialism advanced to such a point that mega-corporations shaped our every decision? (Where's my Skinny Vanilla latte? Where is it? Where???) FEED introduced me to fiction with thematic power. 

I took what I loved about these two books and tried them on a story of my own creation. A year and a half later, I have a manuscript that, to me, works on several levels. 

The characters, plot and world, thrill me for being fantastical but also fully possible of existing at some point in time. And the story stemmed from issues that interest me. It grew from my what ifs. My manuscript can get me talking about my life and this world and where I see us all going. If I want to go there, I can. 

But I could just as happily talk about my kick-butt protagonist... 

Writing a post apocalyptic story for young adults has shown me the beauty of writing a story that can both entertain a reader and open their eyes a little wider. What could be better than that? 

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