Okay, so I lied, I do have one more Conjecture thing I want to throw out there, see if anyone else is interested. This was a side-comment somebody made from the audience in a panel, not germane to the discussion or I would have been leaping and bounding and yodeling, but someone made one of those "As we all know"-toned references as to how "all fantasy" is regressive but SF is progressive.
One of the things I like about fantasy (not the main thing, because that would be allegory, and I don't like allegory) but one of the things is that the world-building can strip history down to bedrock and build up from there using a jumble of other elements. If they're convincing enough to drive the story, what you can end up doing is the Superversive* What If?
But it can be done without invoking the clanking chains of political labels that tie ideas so hard to current issues in contemporary culture.
*'superversive' is a coin termed by superversive
. As he posted some time ago in a discussion over on SFF.NET:'ll agree . . . that good fantasy & sf should be dangerous,
that they should be ideologically challenging, that they should
question the standards of contemporary society. But this is not the
same as being subversive. To the extent that they are written merely to
condemn society, to propagandize against it, they are mere angry
polemic -- subversive polemic. . .
Good sf & fantasy, I maintain, is good & powerful not because of what
it tears down, but because of what it builds up in its place. Of all
the faculties of the human mind, the imagination is the furthest from
being subversive. Anyone can say 'down with the government', but it
takes imaginative genius to design a replacement for it. Anyone can
throw insults at Victorian prudery (a thing, btw, that does not even
exist anymore), but it takes imaginative genius & empathy to devise a
more humane set of mores. Anyone can bulldoze old buildings, but it
takes the imagination of an architect to put up new ones in their
place. By focusing on what is torn down, or more precisely what they
would *like* to see torn down, Anyone can rant against the evils of
industrialism, but it takes the genius of a Blake or a Tolkien to
propose an alternative form of society that will capture people's
imaginations (that word again!) & convince them that it is something to