This week’s Fiction Friday saw me giving my last workshop this week in a series I’ve given and helped give for the Runnymede Literary Festival. It was such a great experience and it’s definitely something I’d do again. The topic was on Science Fiction, so naturally it caught my attention and I signed up just like that.
However, what I’m going to discuss today was something I *didn’t* think of initially.
What do the upcoming generation think about Science Fiction?
Because each school had told their class varying degrees of information about the event, I would normally ask them what they knew was happening today. Many knew it was on Creative writing, but not necessarily on the subject matter. This is where the reactions kicked in:
First of all, I’d say the same amount of girls and boys were equally excited or sceptical about the words science fiction. There wasn’t a clear gender divide from what I saw – which was quite relieving.
The whole “slipstream” era is interesting in the light of the workshops, as many people believed fantasy and magic based stories to be in Science Fiction. A lot knew the big names i.e. Star Wars/Star Trek/Dr.Who without necessarily having seen them. Quite a few mentioned Star Trek was for old people, which in turn made me feel very old indeed!
There was fear about how someone could write science fiction, especially those who hadn’t engaged with the genre in any way, but I guarantee you – everyone had a sci-fi eque tale at the end of it. One of the best moments is when a young girl said “This is Sci-Fi? I never knew it was so good!”, and she had one of the best stories, so I don’t think she was being sarcastic, haha!
I gave two themes of workshops – Novums and Worldbuilding. The former invovled discussing the types of Sci Fi they knew, and identifying the novum and the basic plot underneath. Through this, I gave each group a prop (a lot of boys liked playing with my lipstick!) and helped them to come up with ideas about what this *could* be. One group described my top hat as draining memories from people if it found them interesting, and er… killing those it found boring. What an interesting idea!
It’s nice to see children really eager to read out their stories too – and that they have scope to continue it. The world-building workshops were great too, and in this one I saw great topics that fitted in the post-apocalyptic genre (they liked that term!), alternative myth, utopia/dystopia etc. I also saw hints of The Big Time, Surface Detail, By Light Alone (if light was replaced with bubblegum) and so on – I’m sure we’ll see these titles in bookstores before long!
So, I think in essence, it’s about bringing sci-fi to people’s attention by discussing the ideas. The sceptical ones mentioned that SciFi was just about explosions and special effects, and it’s this visual culture of the Sci Fi blockbuster that they’ve been solely exposed to. I’d definitely be up for promoting Science Fiction in schools for that reason, to show them that it’s not the only way Sci Fi can be presented. Who’s up for it?