It seems a lot of ideas come from dreams, and I have a theory that dreams and spec-fic actually are located in the same place… as in, spec-fic is stories set entirely in the dream world, that is why they work, and why they appeal.
Because we are waking when we read them, our conscious minds demand the stories follow their own internal logic and rules (unlike dreams); but, so long as they’re consistent, writers can get away with anything… because we all know in dreams, anything goes.
I’m known for active and colorful dreams, and there was a stretch as a child that my favorite part of the day was bedtime, ’cause I couldn’t wait to see what would happen in my dreams. This is a very similar feel to the way I enjoy a good spec-fic offering, and the take-away I slowly mull over for days afterward.
Dreams can bring us to the point of utter panic, even if we’ve never had cause to panic in real life. They can sooth us, or sharpen our senses to something that we hadn’t noticed before, they can lull us or leave us feeling bereft. I am fascinated by the thread of similarity between the meanings of dreams (note: I do not believe that all dreams have meanings… but some certainly do, and we can learn from them.) Then, the same ought to be true for spec-fic? By reading or viewing a work of fantasy or science fiction we are in essence stepping into someone else’s dream… and are learning the lesson they have dreamt. This can be powerfully good, or powerfully dangerous, depending on the lesson, the writer, and the internal strength of the reader.
With these tools spec-fic can explore this same territory, nudging aside the boring dictates of daily life and delving straight to the heart of a nebulous theme, grappling with the great and the hard to fathom. Spec-fic can rise above any certain set of restrictions and tell a tale that applies to almost any situation.. in this way it can impart “blanket wisdom”.
If there’s any generation that needs that, I’m thinking now would be it.
As writers and readers of spec-fic, I think it’s important to take our genres seriously, even at the same time we have loads of fun in them. Because the saying “you are what you read” can be tremendously true, and we should be intentional about both what we create, and what we consume.
As consumers of spec-fic form all kinds of sources we should be aware of this, and dig deep. We should ask questions of the experience…
What does it leave us with? What are the lessons we see there?
And as readers who are grown and able (even required) to make our own deductions… we ought to also ask: is the lesson the writer intends as true as the one I see? Because a writer can insert a message that may be false… and it’s up to the receiver to hash out what is true and what isn’t.
Just like real life.
E. Kaiser Writes lives in the Wide Wild surrounded by friendly creatures, and combines witty dialog, twisty turns, and complex plots with deeply meaningful themes, resulting in a reliably unpredictable happy ending in most of her writings. Author of the Fia’s Journey series, (as well as the upcoming Thaw series, of which she is hard at work on book 3) she is currently hosting a call for submissions for the sci-fi anthology Space Kitties: an encouraging opportunity for writers of all stages to join together in print & e-book, with no entry fees or hidden restrictive rights clauses. Anyone interested is invited to visit her blog, E. Kaiser Writes-A-Blog.
You’re right! Speculative fiction does look a lot like dreams. I like all your comparisons, especially how we can learn from them. (I love dreams, but I haven’t had a very storyish one lately … I wonder if there’s anything I can do to get one? : ) ) Dreams are funny things—the way you experience something as if it were real, except you didn’t actually experience it. They’re definitely like living your own book!
Yes, they are, Kelsey! Glad you liked the post… it’s something I’ve kind of been thinking for some time, but haven’t really condensed in this way before. 🙂
And yes!!!! I LOVE storyish dreams!!! 🙂