This week Ethics in SF resumes with the first part of Nancy Jane Moore's two-part feature on characters and moral decision-making.
Ethics in SF: A series of interviews, articles and debates on the Reality Skimming blog, hosted by Lynda Williams, author of the Okal Rel Saga.
Nancy Jane Moore is the author of Changeling, originally published as part of the Conversation Pieces series from Aqueduct Press and now available as an ebook from Book View Café; Conscientious Inconsistencies, a collection from the UK press PS Publishing; and Flashes of Illumination, an ebook collection of short-short stories from Book View Café. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous print and ebook anthologies as well as in magazines ranging from The National Law Journal to Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.
She is a founding member of Broad Universe and of the online writers’ co-op, Book View Café, as well as being a member of SFWA. Currently she’s revising a novel at the request of an editor and working on a story for the third volume of the Book View Café Shadow Conspiracy steampunk anthologies. She blogs each Thursday on the Book View Café blog, and can be found on Facebook and Google+. See her author page at Book View Café.
Q. Describe your relationship to ethics in your writing.
I find that I frequently write stories where the main character has to choose between following the rules and doing what she (it's usually she) thinks is right. This comes up a lot in the military SF I've written. For example, in "Gambit," which appears in the new anthology No Man's Land, my main character is a peacekeeper who is required to act as a neutral in the midst of a civil war. She is aided by some refugees and ends up deciding to help them, at great cost to herself. (An excerpt from this story is at Book View Café.)
One early story of mine, "Passing," which appears in my ebook collection, Flashes of Illumination, deals with both legal ethics and an individual's moral choices. The story is set in a world in which clones are defined as property, rather than as human beings, and the main character is a clone who is "passing" as a "born" human. She feels both fear and guilt over her deception, but the story also deals with the moral failings of a society that would allow someone to be treated as property. This story first appeared in the National Law Journal, and has been used in high school classes. Teenagers really get the societal injustice in this story.
I also deal with ethical issues rather indirectly. In the story "Homesteading," which is in my collection Conscientious Inconsistencies, my main character decides to let a man live in a situation in which most people would kill him. She doesn't think of it in terms of right or wrong; she is going on instinct. But in writing the story, I was giving a lot of thought to twisting the typical fight scene and looking for another way of resolving conflict besides killing. That story also deals with learning not just how to fight, but when to fight. "Homesteading" is currently available for free on Book View Café.
Your Turn: Comment with your own reaction to the questions.