Monday, March 16, 2015

When Life Imitates Art

I was struggling with what to write about today. So many of the best topics have been covered and my fellow YAtopians are doing such a fantastic job addressing writerly issues that I was seriously lacking inspiration. Then this popped up in my Feedly feed:

As a mostly science fiction writer, I follow quite a few tech and gadget blogs, forever on the lookout for innovations that I could incorporate into my stories. Some of these tidbits have even inspired stories, but this article really hit home with me because...

My new YA novel I Heart Robot opens with a robot funeral! At the core of my novel is the question: what makes us human? So to see this article about Japan and robot culture and how the way we treat machines has become indicative of our own humanity, made me smile. In my story, the robots serves as mirrors in a way, reflecting the human characters' humanity - or sometimes lack thereof - in what I thought was purely the realm of science fiction. To see something similar starting to play out in real life makes me realize that what Aristotle claimed about art imitating life isn't always the only truth. As Oscar Wilde opined in an essay written in 1889, sometimes life imitates art and now, in a way, I'm seeing my own art being imitated in real life. (For a far more erudite and articulate examination of anti-mimesis, please read Wilde's The Decay of Lying.)

Genre fiction is often put down and relegated to the trash bins, rarely held in the same regard as literary fiction (although I'm not sure why or when the two became mutually exclusive), but reading articles like these make me realize that a genre like science fiction can be just as philosophically and psychologically relevant in the exploration of the human condition, if not more so, since science fiction by its very nature is all about pushing boundaries and examining what will happen to humanity when we are pushed beyond the limits of current understanding.

Philosophical meanderings aside, there are three important things I've learned today thanks to this article popping up in my RSS feed:

1) Following geeky blogs is a good thing and has, and will, definitely help my writing in a myriad ways.

2) Science fiction is relevant and shouldn't be ignored because it's 'genre' fiction - and don't let anyone make you feel less of an author for writing about aliens or cyborgs!

3) Aristotle and Wilde are both right and probably would've had a lively discussion about the art-life-art imitation debate had their lifespans overlapped.

Personally, I see an article like this as affirmation that the type of stories I want to tell have meaning beyond entertainment. And, as science fiction becomes science fact, I think there's going to be a lot more of life imitating art.

1 comment:

  1. I love the science fiction genre Suzanne, and I think you're right...there tends to be a teeny-tiny bit of embarrassment when you announce that you're writing a sci-fi. When I first started writing my novel (Chasing Echoes), I originally had it categorized as a sci-fi because of the time loop component. Later I discovered that since my novel features a Father Time figure with time-manipulation powers, it actually fell into the fantasy/paranormal genre. I remember feeling a wee bit relieved that I no longer had to call it a sci-fi (even though the YA fantasy market is flooded). And that is SO WRONG. I think my relief stemmed around the fact that most female teens/young adults gravitate toward fantasy over sci-fi...I'm not sure. But there does seem to be some sort of stigma surrounding writing science fiction (especially aliens and cyborgs, or intergalactic ANY thing).

    I'm so excited about I Heart Robot! I just added it to my Goodreads and entered your Giveaway. :-D