On the Danger of Making Things Up


I am not a science fiction writer. My exposure to science is limited to an overabundance of calculus before I knew better and a couple of quarters of dabbling in chemistry before I ran off into the comforting embrace of literature. I did qualify for a Bachelor’s of Science, but I still cannot say, “Yes, I have a B.S. in the Arts and Letters” with a straight face.

It was entirely true though. I made up a lot of stories during my formative years, which makes me a speculatist, at best.

Do you know the difference between fabulists and speculatists? When asked about world-building, fabulists shrug and perform a sleight-of-hand trick that distracts you. Speculatists will drag out an enormous tome, filled with hundreds of pages of hand-written notes that no one can read. “Here,” they say, “What do you want to know?”

Earth Thirst has vampires in it. That makes it urban fantasy. There’s a thread running through it about catastrophic environmental collapse–it’s coming, kids–which is why I like to call it an eco-thriller. There’s a strong whiff of looking at something like the International Energy Agency’s latest World Energy Outlook and positing a couple what if? scenarios. That sounds a lot like science fiction.

The last was brought to my attention by Vlad Verano at Third Place Press. I laughed at first, citing my bibliography as sign enough that I didn’t write science fiction, but isn’t that the basis of imagining what our world will be like in a generation or two?

I didn’t set out to write a cautionary tale of our future, but when the IEA puts out their yearly summary and it contains cautionary discussion of the likelihood of a 3° global temperature increase in our lifetimes, suddenly the Arcadian Conflict becomes something less than pure fiction and more of a metaphor.

[This post was originally published at The Night Bazar on November 30th, 2012.]

One thought on “On the Danger of Making Things Up

  1. on December 3, 2012 Walter: Yes, I certainly hope stetyrollers are useful after the lights go out. We may become 21st century shamans. Michael: Thanks, and I like specabulist, especially if you make it specabulistic.’ That sounds like something afore-mentioned shamans would practice.

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