Friday, December 7, 2012

Esprit d'Escalier


Last weekend, I had dinner with a few local SF people and members of a college chemistry class who were working on a paper on changing representations of chemistry in science fiction, and one of the students asked if science fiction stories followed trends in the arts and movies and television.  I ignored the part of the question involving the arts because while there must be others, I'm the only writer I know who follows contemporary art specifically to find new story  ideas.  But I said that for various reasons print SF was far, far ahead of other media.

Without going into details, it was a not a bad rap and perfectly valid to boot.  But afterward, I was hit by what the French call esprit d'escalier, "the spirit of the staircase."  Which is when you realize, while you're on the stairs leaving the party, what you should have said earlier. 

What I should and didn't add was that while SF doesn't follow trends elsewhere in the arts, it for sure follows trends in the sciences.  When Gerard K. O'Neil came up with the idea of L5 colonies, a flock of L5 colony stories -- I wrote one myself -- appeared about a year later.  If you want to have some fun, subscribe to Science News and then watch its reportage turn into fiction twelve months later.

It's an obvious point, I know.  But I've been kicking myself for having missed it.  So you may consider this my venting.

Thanks for listening.


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