This week, Pauline Baird Jones continues our recent theme of optimism in Speculative Fiction with a mini essay.
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.
Pauline Baird Jones is a long-time reader--and a writer--of hopeful, humorous mayhem that includes science fiction romance, steampunk and yes, romantic suspense. If you’re a reader in search of any of the above, check her out at www.paulinebjones.com.
In Defense of Hope
In South Pacific, when Nellie sings about being a cock-eyed optimist, she's also singing about me. Like Nellie, "I'm stuck like a dope on a thing called hope."
I like it in my life and prefer it my fiction. Part of what drove me from romantic suspense to science fiction romance--in my reading and my writing--was the genre's trend toward more cynicism and unrelenting, gritty realism.
I don't mind my characters getting down and dirty against the bad guys, but at the end, I want the soaring lift of that happy ending. I want the good gals and guys to win. I want the good gals and guys to be good.
Yes, conflict requires characters to struggle with issues of heart and conscience, and often that means making mistakes that seem to kill hope, but for me, that just makes the overcoming, the return of hope that much more satisfying.
I know that's one of the things that drew me to Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet books. Jack Geary is a hero in every sense of the word. He's honorable, decent, willing to do his duty even if it kills him--or keeps him from the woman he loves. He's not perfect, but he recognizes that a life not lived well, one without hope or honor, isn't worth living.
He resonates with me because I know people like him. There are real heroes in the real world. I know some. In honor of heroes--real and fictional--I'll conclude my happy/hope fest with two pieces of advice.
From Galaxy Quest: "Never surrender! Never say die!"
And from me: Every day is twenty-four hours, whether you're happy or sad. But it feels longer when you're sad. So don't be.
Rock on, hope!
Your Turn: Comment with your own reaction to the questions.