Archive for May 15th, 2009

Selling a utopia, and “Titanium Mike” podcast

Word count: 3855 | Since last entry: -324

Beautiful sunny day today. Went to the last yoga class of the term, walked down to Stumptown for more beans, mowed the lawn. Also finished up and submitted my story for the Shine anthology.

This story wasn’t all that hard to write, but I had a lot of trouble dealing with the comments from my critique group. Some of them liked the story; some found its utopia implausible; others found the utopia plausible enough, but morally ambiguous (which was not my intent). How to deal with these varied reactions?

The biggest problem with writing optimistic near-future SF, I think, is that if you’re going to write about a future in which some of today’s most serious and intractible problems are solved, and make it convincing, you almost have to come up with a real, workable solution, and that’s something much better minds than mine have failed at again and again. (People will accept a logically flawed dystopia, because they know that stupidity and greed are endless, but a logically flawed utopia won’t stand up.) I tried to deal with the problem by setting the story well after the change point, but I did try to explain how we got there from here and some of my readers just didn’t buy it.

In the end I think that whether a given given reader buys a story like this (and if the reader is an editor, that’s literal) will depend on whether or not they accept the basic premises from which the story’s solutions proceed. In editing the story, I tried to make the utopia more plausible by providing more concrete details… they won’t necessarily convince an antagonistic reader, but may help a neutral reader accept the story even if they don’t buy the utopia.

In other news, the podcast of “Titanium Mike Saves the Day” is now up at StarShipSofa (also available via iTunes). Happy listening!