Monday, July 18, 2022

Space. The Funtastic Frontier.

Okay, we write about crime, but if you had to dip a toe into another genre, which would you add to the mix, and why?

        Make no mistake about it: Crime fiction has been very good to me, both reading and writing.

        Reading such crime fiction luminaries as Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Rex Stout, Sujata Massey, Ed Lin, Ace Atkins, Rachel Howzell Hall, Ian Rankin and the criminally talented contributors to this
blog has been both highly entertaining and extraordinarily educational. And having met a few of these luminaries, I can attest to their generosity, humility and all-around good nature.

    As to my own writing, I can’t think of living a more charmed life; I get to write stories of my own choosing and work with an absolutely brilliant editor at Soho Press, a classy Midtown Manhattan operation with just enough people to get the perfect job done. These folks have proven since Day-One that their solitary and unwavering mission is to partner with writers in the pursuit of their literary success (Thanks, Bronwen!) I love the crime fiction genre and the crime fiction community, many of whom share my affinity for super-casual—if not severely wrinkled--clothing, insanely giggling at stupid jokes and a preference for beer, whisky and a mound of "fully-loaded" fries over champagne, Baluga Sturgeon caviar and lobster canap├ęs. (Not that any of us would turn down a glass or two of bubbly or wolfing down our fill of fish eggs and crustacean snickity-snacks—it’s just that whisky, beer and wacked-out fries are more familiar to us and more easily assessable through Door Dash.)

        Admittedly, I haven’t always been about the reading or writing of crime fiction.

        Part of me—the long-ago kid in me—still has his head floating Zero-G through the star fields of a clear midnight sky.

        I have since my early reading days been a rabid fan of science-fiction. My galactic tour guides were Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg and Donald A. Wollheim, Madeleine L’Engle, Ursula K. Le Guin, Arthur C. Clarke and the inestimable Octavia A. Butler. My eyes were glued to our Magnavox TV screen whenever the original Lost in Space, Twilight Zone, Star Trek and Outer Limits were on. And these days, I choose to wait several days after my birthday so I can pull out all the celebration stops for May 4, i.e., “May the 4th be with you!”

        So naturally, I would love to try my hand at writing science-fiction.

        Not unlike crime fiction, science-fiction is often a reflection of who we are as a human species.            

        The wonder of sci-fi is often the speculation and extrapolation of where we might be as a human species in a day, a decade, a century or millennia. Yes, our technology will change—but will human nature evolve and how will it evolve, if at all? Science-fiction is, more than not, a cautionary tale of how collectively humans impact the future and how an unpredictably future will impact an unprepared human species. I would think the only constriction to writing a tremendous science-fiction story is the limits of one’s own imagination . . .

        . . . then again . . .

        . . . there’s always Godzilla kicking the radioactive poop-cicles out of Mechagodzilla, or a monster chasing Sigourney Weaver in a thong around a spaceship.


        Sometimes sci-fi is just Bennie Hill in helmets, shiny suits and thongs.

        So, what the hell do I know?

- Stephen Mack Jones


Susan C Shea said...

Bennie Hill in shiny helmets, yes! Stephen, have you read Octavia Butler's work? I (and a whole lot of better-read science/alt world readers) think she's both a wonderful writer and an imaginative storyteller.

Stephen Mack Jones said...

Hey, Susan! Yes, I've read Octavia Butler's work (not all, but most) and I agree--she was a wonderful and very imaginative storyteller. Of course, Ray Bradbury was my favorite for all of his imagination, humility and compassion.