Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Optimism is the New Despair

What if optimism is the new despair? The way grey was the new black in 2001 and now Tangerine Tango is the new Emberglo and Cockatoo is the new Quarry. (If you find that analogy confusing, it's because I find it confusing. The references are to Pantone trend forecasts. And don't colors have interesting names?)

Optimism is the new despair. 

Or it ought to be. 

Elizabeth Bear makes a good case in Clarkesworld, Dear Speculative Fiction, I'm Glad We Had This Talk  I think she is absolutely right. 

Despite my enthusiasm for the idea, I may not be able to pull it off, myself.

My essential difficulty is lack of control. About the most optimistic conclusion I can come up with is "OK, for now." 

This is odd, since I am almost pathologically cheerful. (Nominative determinism in action.) 

If I were able to plot a book, it might be possible to engineer some optimism in—embed it in the DNA, put it in the blue prints. But I don't plot, and without that steering mechanism a lot of my stories seem to veer and run into the ditch—or the barrow pit. And then the rest of the story has to take place on a rarely traveled road, and then night falls, and then I have to choose between sitting there and walking home all that long way in the dark. 

Maybe my problem is rooted in the difference between realistic and speculative fiction. 

Or maybe it's a choice I can make. I am optimistic sometimes. I plant things—that's optimistic. I've replicated my mitochondrial DNA— that's optimistic. I've been know to buy green bananas; that's an optimistic gesture. So maybe I can toss my towel around my neck, stick out my thumb, and see what happens. Maybe I won't run into the Black Rabbit of Inle. Maybe...

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