Fight the Future Hosted by: Dan Saunders and Paul Saunders First Published: March 30, 2015 Rating: For teens, with light swearing; one episode has a trigger warning Update Schedule: Fortnightly Current Status: Final episode airs March 29, 2016 [Updated with new details]
Not long after I published my list of what kinds of works should receive the Geeking Out About… seal of approval for celebrating inclusivity and diversity, I read a notice on the message board for this podcast that it was going to be going to be ending this year. This prompted me to fire off an email to Paul Saunders asking him if I could include the podcast as one of my platform planks because even though I was an infrequent listener (due to my not having read or seen all of the works they were reviewing), I really enjoyed the premise of the podcast and what it was attempting to achieve. His response was to be flattered but wonder if they were even eligible, something about which I was quick to reassure them. And yet, I am totally not surprised to know that was the first reaction from him, seeing as he is a member of my favorite Internet sketch comedy troupe Loading Ready Run.
As with almost everything genre-related in my life, the reason I became interested this year in reading as many Hugo Award-eligible works as I can before March 28 this year is all thanks to my former college professor Dr. Atara Stein (may you rest in peace).
As a young undergrad at Cal State Fullerton, I had taken her Science Fiction literature class because I’d become interested in learning how other people have written science fiction in the hopes that I would be able to write my own. One of the first things she told us on the first day was that because even the science fiction genre encompassed a wide breadth of topics and themes, we would be focusing on what to her embodied what science fiction was as its very heart: What does it mean to be an intelligent “human”?
Through the clarifying lens of the “artificial intelligence” theme, a partial list of everything I read that school year is as follows: Neuromancer, Frankenstein, “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and He, She and It. We also watched the director’s cut versions of Blade Runner and Terminator 2 as well as the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Measure of a Man” (because she was also a secret Trek fanfic writer on the side).
It’s because of her college course that my philosophy about what makes “good” science fiction has to flow from satisfying at least two of these three criteria:
Does the work examine what it means to be “human” in some extensive way?
Is a very important part of how the plot and/or setting works tied to the use of technology created by sentient beings?
It is very improbable that the events in the setting of the book will happen during my lifetime?
This is a rubric which I’ve been following both consciously and sub-consciously my entire life, and it’s the rubric by which I plan to read and critique as many science fiction comics, short stories, novellas, and novels as are eligible for the 2016 Hugo Awards as I can before the nomination deadline of March 31.