I look back all the way to my childhood, when I first read The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit, and then track all the way to today, seeing how much fantasy and science fiction have been an integral part of my life since. The books I read are 99% from those genres (and related subgenres), as are the movies I prefer, the games I play, the conversations I hold…
The short answer?
The long answer?
I believe that our ability to dream, to have a vision of the future, to cast our imagination beyond the boundaries of this reality…all those things are a big part of what it means to be human. We are, in many ways, a hopeful species. We explore. We seek out adventure. We strive to learn and grow and build, even in the face of global disaster and individual trauma.
Hope gives us strength, and fantasy and science fiction—to me, at least—embody that virtue in many ways. These genres represent endless possibility and the belief that there is always something wild and wonderful yet to be discovered. Even if there’s danger or even death along the way, we have the ability to be brave and persevere in the hope of reaching a better existence.
No, not every story within science fiction and fantasy is a hopeful one. Yeah, there are speculative genres like supernatural horror where everyone dies in the end, or grimdark stories where existence is a senseless string of blood and gravestones.
However, when I go to write a story, I find I naturally lean toward hopeful themes and characters to one degree or another. Maybe they aren’t that way at first, but it often emerges later on at least. It’s what I want to believe in and what I want to experience in the stories I continue to read.
Some people might consider it unrealistic or simplistic. That reality is too harsh and unforgiving to have any room for hope.
Well, guess what? Science fiction and fantasy let me create any reality I want. And while the stories I write will still be full of struggle and heartache and loss and pain, those will be the shadows to contrast with the ongoing hope for freedom, love, joy, and healing.
Onward and upward.