Yes, this weekend, we’ll be at Sci Fi South West, and we are very much looking forward to it! Two days of monsters, mayhem, Thunderbirds, Dr Who, droids, androids, and general shenanigans!It is only fitting at this point to remind you that we are currently selling our political satire anthology CROSS, to mention the occurences of robots in said book, and to try and draw some connections between the world of satire and the world of sci fi….
1. Sci fi is satire
Most sci fi presents a version of a world that is not our own and is dedicated to pointing out the things that are wrong, corrupt or duplicitous about those in power (cf. Asimov, Banks). It also often shows us the things that are wrong, corrupt and duplicitous about ourselves (A Clockwork Orange, 1984). A lot of sci fi is, simply, satire.
It’s no coincidence that the golden age of sci fi (well, one of them) was the 1945 – 1969 – a time when the Communist threat was taken Very Seriously Indeed and when science fiction offered us ciphers through which we could interpret our own world. Aliens, the fear of the unknown, the fear of the thing that could wipe our our civilisation in an instant: these were the memes of post-war popular culture in America (less so in the UK, though John Wyndham (hero of mine) gave them a good run for their money). We still use sci fi as code: aliens for things that are, well, alien – strange, foreign, different; alien technology for biological and chemical weapons that we don’t understand; alien abduction as code for stranger danger.
Somehow, it’s OK to show sub-cultures, counter-cultures and things that are just downright weird in sci fi, in a way that we rarely would through other genres. Read back on the history of tentacles to get a glimpse of this in action (grown-ups only). But also think about how sci fi lets us deal with interracial relationships, what it’s like to be different / foreign, how we claw our way out of the gutter (whilst looking at a varied array of stars), drugs, drink, prostitution, bribery, corruption, assassinations, corporate takeovers, our fear of science, our loss of faith, our belief in our new god – technology, our sense of justice, our relationship with time, our monuments, our burials, our grief. Yes, you can explore these in action movies, or dramas, or comedies, but again, sci fi gives us the freedom to question: what does it mean to be human? Satire too gives us freedom: our question is what does it mean to be human in this place and at this time?
4. Utopias and dystopias are versions of our-topia
Every alternate world or universe is a counterpoint to our very real world and our very real universe. To be Other means that there is an original concept to differ from. This is basically the same as Point 1 – sci fi is satire. I hate the phrase that art holds up a mirror to society – it’s trite, simplistic and frankly underestimates the revolutionary power of artists. However: the worlds of sci fi are our own world taken to extreme (or at least somewhere along the continuum). Some are extreme – dictatorships and Elysian communes at opposite ends of the scale. But many are iterations: gradual steps away from what we have now. What if we stepped a little to the right? What if the military had just a little more power? What if the teachers and thinkers were in charge? Every step away from the norm makes you think: would I tolerate this? And history suggests that this is the most powerful question that we can ask ourselves (perhaps another reason why the massive growth in sci fi happened when it did).
So, that’s the end of my rant. I hope it made some sense. It’s a very long way of saying: if you like sci fi and you like comics and, frankly, you want to meet some people who were in some really cool TV shows from your youth (or before), come to Trowbridge in Wiltshire this weekend and look for us at Sci Fi South West!
If you can’t make it to Sci Fi South West this weekend, look out for us at Edinburgh Comic Con on 11-12 April and The Comics Festival, Birmingham on 18 April. And we’ll be making an appearance at a secret location on Free Comic Book Day on 2 May (oooh, mysterious).
If you need satire in the meantime, why not pop over to our online shop on Comicsy and treat yourself to a copy of CROSS, 64 pages of satire, venom, anger, humour, robots, Boris Johnson and flying squirrels? What’s not to love?