I've just been reading this article by Neil Gaimon. The first half, about supporting kids reading choices, whatever they are, is great, and I completely agree with it. But for me, it's about half way down the article that it starts to get really interesting, with this quote.
“I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?
It's simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.”
This is the value I see in books. Books help us imagine. They help us see problems and solutions that aren't our own. They help us consider other points of view. They let us inside the heads of people who are both similar and different to us. Mostly, they make us think.
This is the hope I have for my books, and why I write. They may not be literary masterpieces. They're more about realistic people in realistic situations. I hope my books make people think, even a little. My sci-fi books aren't so much about technological inventions, or exciting space battles, but about the social aspects of technology and society.
With how rapidly technology is changing out lives, we all have a lot to adjust to. Parents are struggling with kids who know more about technology than they do. (Even I do, and I consider myself pretty technologically competent.) Society is facing many questions. It's no longer about what we can do, but about what we should do.
I don't pretend to have any answers. I'm not sure anyone does. But I hope that if we raise our kids to think, to really think, then they'll be that much closer to figuring them out.
If I make one person think, with my writing, then I consider that a success.
What book have you read lately that made you think?