Thursday, February 21, 2013
A Moment with Christopher Cornell
We live in a world of miracle drugs, robotic companions and extraplanetary exploration. Likewise, we struggle with adaptive viruses, technological exploitation and diminishing privacies. Speculative fiction gives birth to many aspects of the modern world before they became part of everyday life. To read and write within this realm is to consider the possibilities of life, both great and horrible.
To speculate is not simply to imagine worlds that do not and will never exist. Imagination allows the reader, as well as the writer, to consider reality in a new light. Sometimes we reflect on the society we want to build; at other times, we spin cautionary tales that manifest our fears of what may come. Whether our heroes and heroines are from other worlds, or rooted firmly in our own, they can serve as markers for our progress as a society. Whenever Big Brother is referenced in a discussion of modern surveillance, or Judge Dredd considered the exemplary of a fascist police state, I am reminded of the role of speculative fiction in steering societal discourse. Many who have shaped our world grew up with Homer and Verne and LeGuin and Huxley. There can be little doubt these diverse voices have fueled the endeavors of those who turn fantasy into reality.
I write speculative fiction because it is more than a cataloging of the familiar. It’s an invitation to deconstruct the world and redeem it with what works, or damn it with what doesn’t. A work of fantasy or science fiction is the personal exploration of an idea, on a scale of one’s own choosing. Though some are tempted to consider such works frivolous entertainment, history proves otherwise. The dialog of our future begins within the pages of books and magazines. To continue that tradition is a true privilege, and provides impetus to continue expanding my own views on the world at large. These ideas need not become truth to accomplish their most important goal: broadening the discussion of where we are headed and what comes next.
I can’t begin to imagine what wonders of our near future have already been revealed within the pages of other authors. Where are the cars, submarines, elevators and satellites of the twenty-first century? The possibilities make reading fun. And heck, it’s pretty fun to write about, too.
But I’m still waiting for my flying car.
Christopher Cornell is a writer, musician, interface developer and somnambulist in California's East Bay. He has also studied film and television, and is a graduate of the Viable Paradise writers' workshop.
More information and inane anecdotes can be found on his website and Twitter.