Quite the question isn’t it, but fundamental to the books I create. It’s an important question for every writer, and I feel it reveals a lot about their aims, and you can see it filter through to their work.
This goes back to a lot of what I’ve covered in the “Me and Science Fiction” series of articles I did. Fundamentally, going from the TV series I loved (Firefly, Battlestar Galactica), to written sci-fi, I was disappointed. Books like Revelation Space, hallowed greats of the genre, just didn’t click with me.
They felt too much like a story about a world, instead of about people. Every story to me has to be about people. We’re human, we love experiencing stories about life. You know the key ingredients of it. Love, despair, friendship, conflict, hope.
There is definitely not enough hope in the sci-fi I’ve read. The Culture series by the late-great Iain M. Banks stands out as an exception to me of the recent sci-fi I’ve delved into. It shouldn’t be an exception. Dystopian futures, books about post-apocalyptic worlds, all of them seem very common nowadays. But not many that give hope about the future.
Others, such as Jonathan McCalmont on his blog Ruthless Culture, have discussed this in great articles that frame it as the future now being too complex to understand compared to the Golden Age. I don’t buy that. The future is always complex, no matter when you live. That doesn’t excuse a retreat from hope.
Books should inspire people, delve into their souls and lodge themselves deep inside. They should make them feel, make them think. They should make people look to the stars and dream.
I’m on the first steps in my writing career, and I know my work still has plenty of areas to improve. But my aim is to write books that inspire people, books about people and being human and all that entails, books that make people dream.
An ambitious goal perhaps, but I don’t know how to be anything else.