Dear Yuletide Writer,
This year I’ve requested fic from one of three books, all of which take place in a future wherein humanity has expanded throughout the solar system. As you may have guessed, this is a subject I find highly compelling.
In the paragraphs below I’ll explain the aspects of my requests I find most interesting, but broadly speaking, I’m interested in the lived experiences of people who live off of Earth. What is your day like when your home is a sealed can of air hurtling through space at tens of thousands of miles an hour? What do you have for breakfast? Where do you make out? Et cetera.
First, Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312. This novel was probably the best thing I read all year. I loved nearly everything about it – its daring, disjointed narrative, its believably weird characters, the audacity of its sweep and scope. And basically I just want to spend some more time in the setting. I love the idea of the hundreds or thousands of idiosyncratic terraria, and the quirky micro-civilizations that occupy each one. You, author, could take your favorite spot on earth and reimagine it as a terraria. Write a flagrant self-insert with your future self in your future space home! Also, I was endlessly fascinated by the notion of a society where both gender AND sex have become so functionally fluid, and notions of what constitutes “family” have correspondingly shifted. I wonder how Swan Er Hong is going to integrate with Wahram’s creche. What I’m saying is that pretty much anything that involves truly inhabiting the world of 2312 is going to make me pretty happy.
Next, Robert Heinlein’s The Rolling Stones. This is one of my very favorite works of fiction of all time (I’ve reread it countless times), but man alive, it sure has some problems. The book is shot through with a huge vein of Heinleinish patriarchy and privilege issues, and I’d love to see a vision—even a brief vision—of what a more nuanced treatment of the Stone family would be. It bugged me endlessly, for example, that Meade Stone was mostly airheaded and boy-crazy, and that her concerns were generally sidelined in favor of whatever crazy plans the twins had ginned up. But honestly, what’s kept the book fresh for me all these years is my fascination with homes (and families) that move. I love the idea of shipboard living and the strange life it would entail. The character that most captures my imagination is the the Rolling Stone herself, and I’d love to see your take. (NOTE: The science and tech in this book is massively out of date – feel free to update it or not as strikes your fancy.)
Then, John Barnes’s Losers in Space. I enjoyed this book very much, and applauded its valiant attempt to be both a hard SF novel and a YA book. However, as obviously troubling as parts of the future it depicts were meant to be, one aspect seemed to go entirely unaddressed, and that was Susan’s constant “styling” various outward appearances, and her constant attempts to suppress her inner “science girl.” I think her arc made sense for her, but I was disappointed that there wasn’t any explicit counterpoint to her constant styling, no appeal to genuineness. So something set in that universe – any character is fine with me – that pushes back against the culture of meems and hooks that has become all-encompassing. Out there in the blackness of space, wouldn’t it occur to people to sometimes wonder what it means to be sincere?
Finally, a note: I have no particular rating or content restrictions.
I’ll conclude by saying that the most important thing is for you to enjoy writing whatever it is you wind up writing, and I hope you’ll feel free to disregard my rambling if it’s not proving helpful.