My essay, “The Failure of Post-9/11 Science Fiction,” was recently published in The New York Review of Science Fiction. Using William Gibson’s post-9/11 novels as a lens, I argue that science fiction has for the most part devolved from a focus on politics and society before 9/11 to a focus on religion and extremism post-9/11. Science fiction, which reflects the present more than it predicts the future, wields a remarkable ability to change the present and act against norms of widespread prejudice. Unfortunately, this literary strength has waned with respect to science fiction’s portrayal of America and its relation to the Muslim world:
Where are the Abbotts, Orwells, Vonneguts, and Herberts of American speculative literature to challenge the post-9/11 perception of the Muslim world? Chakrabortty writes, “At the point when we need people of all disciplines . . . the artists are missing.” Literature needs to create understanding rather than simplify to caricature. Speculative fiction, from its position outside the mainstream, is equipped to enhance and challenge. All that’s needed is a few good writers who are willing to set themselves apart from the crowd.
To read the entire essay, purchase the September 2012 issue (Vol. 25, No. 289) for only $2.99 — it is the first essay on page 8. You can also subscribe to NYRSF. The essay is featured on the September 2012 Table of Contents.