19 March 2019

spec fic and family

As a writer, I'm trying to plot out a big new spec fic project. Among other things, I have to figure out who the protagonist's family members are and what their roles are. This made me realize speculative fiction has a long history of not including (bio) family members. Why?

I'm sure opinions differ on why this is, but here's my two cents:

  • History.
    • Back in the mists of time, speculative fiction was created for young people. Even today, the stereotype of spec fic readers is young people. Young people are less concerned with family than some other groups.
    • Much early spec fiction was of a shorter length and there's simply no room for a huge cast of characters. (Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, e.g. epic fantasy.)
  • Ideas. Speculative fiction is a literature of ideas be it a quest, fighting a monster, or inventing a new gadget. Experimenting with ideas, imagining what-ifs doesn't require relatives.
  • Individualism. Readers want to see unique protagonists act to solve their own immediate problems.

Found or chosen families are huge in spec fic, on the other hand. You need people to join you on your quests, etc.

So, going back to my idea from last week: trends. Is this anti-family paradigm on the decline? I think ...not.
What do you think?

I was reminded of the common phenomenon of long-long mothers and/or fathers coming back from the dead or whatever. <--This is common.

Send us your spec fic--with or without family.

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