Pravic Commandments For New Science Fiction

by David Gill and Nathaniel K Miller, Editors, Pravic Magazine

“Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end.” – Henry David Thoreau

Science Fiction is no longer a novelty.

We do not want to read Science Fiction because it is set in the future. Science Fiction must offer some deeper, truer view of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

Science Fiction is not about predicting the future.

Science Fiction should explore our internal terrain. Like scientists growing bacteria in a laboratory, we should see, in the results of our experiments, traces of the spores from which they arise. What we see in extrapolated technology and future culture are latent tendencies in the human condition which lie hidden to us now, but which we can examine through the medium of our genre.

Space is not the “final frontier.”

We have yet to pierce our own inky blackness, to fully assess the mysteries of our existence, or even to define the curious connection between the wonders of our mind and the miracle of our being.

We believe that discovery can happen anywhere: in the fog, in the spaces between things, in a solitary moment.

This is not the future.

William Gibson’s notion that the future has arrived but is unequally distributed is oxymoronic. It’s not that we’re missing the intended cleverness of this statement; we just don’t think it’s all that clever. The future will never arrive, or it ceases to be the future; as such, ‘the present’ becomes a kind of dividing line, which renders all fiction set on the far side a lens for magnifying what is within us.

The future, like the unconscious mind, is unknowable directly. We can only get at it obliquely. Science Fiction is a kind of therapy we can use to plumb our depths.

Science Fiction is uniquely suited to diagnosing our societal ills.

We recognize the power of this utility, and pledge to use it responsibly and to its full potential. While we’re wary of becoming what Vonnegut called “Royal Astronomers” – cynical doomsayers with axes to grind – we’re just as fearful of the opposite. We feel there’s more utility in self-examination than in self-congratulation.

Science Fiction literalizes the figurative.

A lover’s cold and unapproachable heart becomes, in Science Fiction, an artificial heart, a thing of glass and wire and circuitry.

There is no ‘idea science fiction’ anymore. The future is impersonal, but our struggle with it is deeply personal.

Technology in science fiction should be deployed in order to bring greater depth and visibility to the characters.

Science Fiction need not limit itself to writing about plausible future scenarios; any scenario that is either plausible or karmically appropriate shall be considered SF, as the technical aspect of the craft involves extrapolation. We want to tell you more than what we think the future will be like: let’s talk about the future we have earned through our mindless exploitation of the present.

Science Fiction is Experiential and Ontological

Ultimately all knowledge of the Universe is filtered through our perception – therefore the ultimate science fiction story really is a human story, about the act of discovery, rather than the discovery

Science Fiction should be concerned with the process of trying to understand the Universe (and our place in it), rather than with the Universe itself. We have no perception without conception.

Consensual reality is fading quickly, replaced by windowless monads, individual realities. In consensual reality’s place is emerging a multi-verse – a set of realities, each grounded in an individual consciousness, which offer up a notion of reality uniquely formed to/by the psychology of the individual.These realities, it turns out, are as mutually exclusive as the ‘alternate dimensions’ of traditional SF.

We are not optimistic about humanity’s future.

We’re not going to call the game early, but we do know this: progress-mongering and optimistic feel-goodery doesn’t suit this medium. We’ve been beating the drums of development for too long. What we need now is refinement, awareness, and the capacity for harsh self-evaluation.


About pravicmag

Pravic is a new magazine bringing you literary Science Fiction stories, along with discussions of esoteric pop culture, music and movie reviews, and anything else we feel like. We're sick of "idea SF" - stories in which a single conceit is explored to the exclusion of all else. We want, in our stories, broad vistas, open space to play and to critique.
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5 Responses to Pravic Commandments For New Science Fiction

  1. Pingback: Announcing Pravic Magazine « theclockworm

  2. Is cyberpop a genre? Where’s the portrait of the future where we all live in a utopian cyber paradise where everything is made of renewable materials and powered by cold fusion, and the government has solved every problem except for high school relationship drama?

  3. gottacook says:

    This is all well and good, and indeed I don’t have much use for what’s sold as sf these days – but a story has to be entertaining, or it won’t put across any ideas at all. A few years ago I tried to read several relatively recent sf novels that would have fit one or more of these criteria, and simply got turned off or lost patience each time. (Most of them were told in present tense – which I thought suitable in books as different as Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Silverberg’s early-1970s fix-up The World Inside, but I think I’ve reached my lifetime threshold for it.)

  4. pravicmag says:

    Yes, Forest, Asimov’s “Foundation Series”….

  5. Ross says:

    “Commandments” and “shoulds” are a major drag. Your approach seems as one-sided as the more extrovertive and tech-happy SF you condemn. Both “inner” and “outer” (an increasingly suspect division) are worth exploring. Your SF literary ethos seems commensurate with that of the old NEW WORLDS crew (Moorcock, Ballard, Aldiss, etc.) and that of the old “New Wave” in general. Despite my initial comments, I confess that I love the “New Wave”; it produced some of the best SF ever. So I’ll be interested in what you accomplish with PRAVIC. What exactly does the magazine’s title–PRAVIC–signify?

    By the way, speaking of SF’s New Wave, let us remember that a major influence on many of its writers was William S. Burroughs (who was a major influence on many of cyberpunk’s writers, also). An intrepid mapper of inner space, he was also committed to the exploration of outer space. In his words: “A basic mutation in consciousness is necessary. No patchwork will do the job. Nobody sitting in his body is egoless. What is the nature of this drastic step into the unknown? As Korzybski said, ‘I don’t know. Let’s see.’ This is the Space Age. Space is a dangerous and unmapped area. It is necessary to travel. It is not necessary to live.” (From Burroughs’s THE RETREAT DIARIES.)

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