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by
Patrick Richardson

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March 22, 2012 - 5:26 pm

Over at According to Hoyt, Sarah A. Hoyt has a series of posts up about a new movement in Science Fiction (yes this includes fantasy as well) we’re calling “Human Wave SF.”

I say we, because — full disclosure – I’m a member of this movement. It’s a simple movement really.

As fans, reviewers, writers and editors we’re sick of grey goo SF. Books where unlikeable characters with no redeeming value wander about doing nothing for 300 pages in a grey landscape without hope or joy.

We are tired of the “message books,” foisted on us by the pretentious literati gits who currently control almost all of the major publishing houses.

We want to return to the sense of wonder and awe we felt when we picked up our first SF novel as children. We want to walk Zarathustra with Pappy Jack and Little Fuzzy. We want to return to Foundation and Foundation’s Edge. We want to ride the ‘stalk with Friday and fight monsters with Owen Z. Pitt. We want to read about the worst Thursday which ever happened and why the universe is much safer if you bring a towel.

In short, we’re taking SF back.

So with no further ado, here is a list of ways you can tell you’re a Human Waver from Sarah:

YOU MIGHT BE A HUMAN WAVER IF:

  • You like to write (or read) stories in which someone wins.
  • You don’t think just making someone white, black, Asian, Hispanic, any other race or sub-race, alien, human, straight, gay, Western, non-western is enough to make him a villain.
  • You don’t think just making someone white, black, Asian, Hispanic, any other race or sub-race, alien, human, straight, gay, Western, non-western is enough to make him a victim.
  • You don’t think the purpose of a story is to deliver a message.  (The story can have a message, but that should be subordinate to the characters, plot, events, and it shouldn’t leave the reader feeling like he just read a very long pamphlet.)
  • You think a great story can touch the core of humanity and the human experience without being relevant to current political events or polemics.
  • You think something should happen in a story.  Or something should have happened, the aftereffects of which are reverberating through the characters.  (It can work for short stories.)
  • You think the writers’ job is to write and sell stories – not to (pick one) educate, elevate, raise the consciousness of the public, change the world, stop a war, start a war or any other quixotic, grandiose and unlikely aim.  (If you achieve any of those, great, but you won’t if you don’t sell.  And if you “just” sell a lot, the Human Wave movement salutes you.)
  • As a writer, you are humbly aware that readers are sacrificing their beer money for your story.  As a reader, you don’t feel you owe a writer and have to read a book that’s a hard slog or no fun at all.
  • As a writer, reader, critique or reviewer, you do not sneer at success.  Yes, in the time when push worked, it was possible that a “mega block buster” simply made it because of distribution and access.  But barring that, if a book is selling, it is because people like it.  Congratulate the writer and move on.  If your wish is to tell people what they SHOULD like for their own good, then you’re probably NOT a Human Wave writer/critic/reader.

Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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