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Has science fiction made me a better person?

The question might be asked. And it was, on SF Signal this past week. Chiming in were Tobias Buckell, Mary Robinette Kowal, Harry Connally, Lee Battersby, Scott Lynch, Jack Campbell, Paul Kemp, Lev Grossman and more.

Q: How has SFF influenced your life? Does it make you a better person? What lessons from SFF do you carry with you?

Here’s how I answered:

Solaris cover

Partial cover from The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction

Writing has influenced my life beyond repair, you might say. My entire brain is deeply etched by the storytelling habit. I want to say that this is a good thing, even a marvelous thing, but like any addict, can you trust my protestations about the tincture upon which I depend? I’m pretty sure SFF doesn’t make me better, per se. But on second thought, maybe so. More imaginative, surely? Always a good thing. Most days I think the writing life is a fabulous privilege, beyond anything I hoped for when I set out. As for SFF specifically, the community enriches me uniquely. I may be wrong, but I think our clan is more supportive and close knit than in other fields. The friends I’ve made in the SFF are the strongest I have. I do wonder if other genres are so comfortably tribal. Perhaps the romance genre, since there is another field that don’t get no respect. And as for lessons from SFF, how about: The future will be stranger than we can imagine. Fifteen years ago I wrote about what I thought of then as the distant future: 2014. I wince when I think about that book. Another: The human imagination is the most powerful force on the planet. I am beyond astonished by the stories of my peers–and once in awhile, by my own.


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