Louise Marley is a recovering opera singer who writes science fiction and fantasy. Her science fiction has twice won the Endeavour Award, and she’s been shortlisted for the Nebula, the Campbell, and the Tiptree Awards. Her publications include the three books of The Horsemistress Saga, an omnibus edition of The Singers of Nevya, and Mozart’s Blood, the story of a vampire opera singer, and her new time-travel novel, The Brahms Deception.
Playing with the Past: Alternate History and Historical Fiction in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Times are changing in the realms of science fiction and fantasy! Science and technology are advancing so quickly that it can be increasingly challenging for authors to speculate convincingly about the future. It’s not surprising, in the current climate, that writers of speculative fiction turn to the past for material, and there are some fine examples in the genre.
Connie Willis, the much-decorated mistress of science fiction, used time travel-a classic device of science fiction dating back to H.G. Wells and even beyond-to explore fourteenth-century Europe in The Doomsday Book, turn-of-the-century England in To Say Nothing of the Dog, and the London Blitz of World War II in Blackout and All Clear. Connie uses history the way I like to do it: not changing historical facts as we understand them, but weaving a fictional plot in and around them. In my recent time-travel novel The Brahms Deception, my intent was to speculate about what might have happened to my characters without changing what we understand actually did happen to them.
Louise Marley is a recovering opera singer who writes science fiction and fantasy. Her science fiction has twice won the Endeavour Award, and she’s been shortlisted for the Nebula, the Campbell, and the Tiptree Awards. Her publications include the three books of The Horsemistress Saga, an omnibus edition of The Singers of Nevya, and Mozart’s Blood, the story of a vampire opera singer. Coming uo in August 2011 is her new time-travel novel, The Brahms Deception.
Classical Music in Science Fiction and Fantasy
If fantasy and science fiction movies like 2001 and Lord of the Rings and Star Wars can feature classical music scores-some existing, like the Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra for 2001, or some created, like Howard Shore’s gorgeous compositions for LOTR-then why is classical music missing in novels? This is the question that begins a lot of panels on the topic of music in speculative fiction.
There are plenty of other examples of music in fantastic fiction. Medieval fantasies abound, of course, with bards and folk harpists. Star Trek often refers to Klingon opera, and although this is an imaginary genre, an opera all in the Klingon language made its debut in 2010 in The Hague. L.E. Modesitt’s Spellsong Cycle is a portal fantasy in which an opera singer finds herself in a land where song has magical power, a theme I explored myself with The Singers of Nevya. In Noir, K.W. Jeter-a devoted opera fan-made reference to Wagner by naming a series of science fictional weapons after characters in The Ring.
All of this, however, is not the same as featuring actual composed, classical music. There are good reasons for that.