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The Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics Group

Andy Remic tells us that he has coordinated The Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics Group, a new consortium of speculative fiction writers who revel in sf having a positive outlook. The site will include reviews, articles, interviews, opinion pieces and collaborative fiction. Their mission statement:

The SFFE is a core platform, a hub of authors who have banded together with the aim of celebrating all that is positive in genre fiction. We aim to leave cynicism and negativity at the door, and concentrate on what makes us smile, what entertains us, and what brings light and joy to our SF, fantasy and horror universe.That’s not to say there is no place for criticism— there’s plenty bad in the world. However, this little digital corner is a place for positive progression, somewhere you will (hopefully) come if you want to smile.

Initial members of the group include: Tony Ballantyne, Eric Brown, Mark Chadbourn, David Devereux, Ian Graham, Paul Kearney, Tim Lebbon, Tom Lloyd, James Lovegrove, Gail Z. Martin, James Maxey, Juliet E. Mckenna, Mark Morris, Sarah Pinborough, Andy Remic, Brian Ruckley, James Swallow, Jeffrey Thomas, Jetse de Vries, Danie Ware, and Conrad Williams.

I wonder how this aligns with Jetse de Vries’s upcoming Shine anthology, which he bills as “optimistic near-future SF”?

[Note: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics Group has been added to the list of SF/F Authors who blog.]

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

18 Comments on The Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics Group

  1. I’m not against the idea, but I don’t understand how the word “ethics” comes into play.  The group as named sounds like it’s meant to make sure writers and fans are ethical in their writing and fannish activities.

  2. Matte Lozenge // May 22, 2009 at 2:27 pm //

    Right, I mean are pessimism, cynicism and irony now considered unethical? I think it’s unethical to exclude those emotions and philosophies. And it’s no contradition to say I also like optimistic and realistic future fiction.

  3. I feel like this is a bit of a misnomer. I think shiny specfic which celebrates the possibilities of science is great, but branding it as “ethical” somehow implies the opposite is “unethical.” I rather hope they reconsider the name.

  4. Ethical – good and bad, right and wrong.

    I think it’s wrong that there’s so much negative shit in the SF community. So we seek to put it right.

    But then, there’s always a lot of negative maggots come crawling out of the rotten woodwork πŸ™‚


  5. I don’t really see why there should be a positive outlook in SF. After all, the real future is often not all that rosy, so why whould authors force their stories to be all uplifting? And “concentrating on what makes you smile” in horror fiction? Er…

  6. Outstanding idea !  There is far too much negative thinking in scifi today, in most cases it’s more a failure of imagination.  For example, how many scifi stories have hero scientists who have solve the problems of global warming, or food production, or resistant bacteria?  Science can solve our major problems, and frequently does.  So why can’t scifi writers try to anticipate this?

    Despite his anti-Christian bigotry Arthur Clarke always had a positive outlook on the future.  His stories bubbled with enthusiasm and positive thinking.  It’s too bad so few writers try to emulate his POV.

  7. Arthur Wyatt // May 23, 2009 at 12:05 am //

    The mere existance and name of this group pisses me off to the point where I fell honour bound to write something as mean and cynical as possible.

  8. We simply want to make a positive contribution to the SF, Fantasy and Horror communities. The reason for author involvement is to write collaborative stories, and have collaborative viewpoint articles. We thought this might be fun. Obviously, many will be “pissed off” by this concept, although its hard to understand why. As writers, all we want to do is entertain via our writing– what’s so bad about that? And, ultimately, if you are “pissed off” then, well there a dead simple solution. Don’t read.


  9. “Ethics Group” certainly sounds like a government oversight group to me! Exactly why would science fiction and fantasy writer require an ethics group to oversee their novels/stories? Let the audience determine which stories they want to read. Remember the “Black List” after World War II? Definitely not a very good concept!

  10. james k // May 23, 2009 at 7:23 am //

    Fantastic ! What a great idea.  It’s so damn hard to find good SF with an optimistic outlook.

    I’ll look forward to reading SF&FEG !!!

  11. Hi John,

    >>I wonder how this aligns with Jetse de Vries’s upcoming Shine anthology, which he bills as “optimistic near-future SF”?<<

    As far as I know Andy came up with SFFE completely independent of me. Andy asked me (and lots of others) to join a few days ago (which I did), but it’s his initiative that started SFFE.

    SFFE — at least, so far as I understand it — wants to celebrate the positive, funky and exciting things in the complete fantasy, SF and horror spectrum. For <i>Shine</i>, I’m looking for near future, optimistic SF stories, which is basically just a small niche of that spectrum.

    I think it’s fairly safe to say that both Andy and I see that the utmost majority of the current SF/F/H output is pessimistic, downbeat and often immensely dystopian, while the upbeat, optimistic and forward-looking stories are very few and far in between.

    We certainly don’t want to forbid anybody to read/write/review the dark, doom and depressive stuff, far from it. We basically want to redress the balance somewhat: if the positive/negative (or pessimistic/optimistic) mix now is something like 95%/5% (and I’m already being quite optimistic with that estimate…;-), it would be nice if it changed to, say, 80%/20%.

    One way to do that is lead by example: and that is what I (with the <i>Shine</i> anthology) and Andy (with SFFE) are doing. I assume that the SF/F/H genres are big enough to encompass a variety of different voices, although judging by some of the comments here, they shouldn’t?

    Well, I still like to think that SF can be *really* forward-looking, and hope to prove that in early 2010.


  12. Ethics group – a “government oversight group” – ha ha, that’s amusing. Really. God, it’s a bit like saying Big Brother is some form of casual and pointless chicken-head entertainment, instead of an, erm, instrusive dystopian all-seeing eye watching our every move. Damn O’Brien!

    As Jetse says, we’re just trying to redress the balance and be positive. I suppose I got a bit sick of reading so much negative poison; just wanted to shine (ha, see what I did there?) a light.

    The original idea of the ethics name came from talking to several notable academics, who said they’d like to be involved. I just thought it would be cool to have a more intelligentsia orientated title; it doesn’t mean we haven’t got a sense of humour (I know most of the writers involved personally, and damn it, the number of times they’ve shaved my eyebrows and pubic mound whilst drunk…..)

    Anyway. From the academic to the pubic. Tell me that’s not amusing? (in a vaguely Black Adder sense of comedy).I digress. And for some reason my italics are now stuck. Damn this Dell laptop.Again, I reiterate, we’re just being positive, and hoping to have some fun along the way. We want to make the sun shine in the SFF community.

  13. Matte Lozenge // May 23, 2009 at 6:28 pm //

    Sounds like it’s saying any sf that’s dystopian or pessimistic is unethical. That’s not very positive. Change your name and you’ll have a better chance of getting something started.

  14. I think it’s a neat idea, and I say that as someone who generally favors fiction on the dark end of the spectrum and has a fairly gloomy outlook on real life.   I do think there’s a dearth of more upbeat stories and settings in recent SF, and that the field would benefit from more of a balance.  Some people make a fetish out of fiction being downbeat, as if pessimism, sadness, and despair were inherently more thoughtful or authentic or creative than their opposites, so I’m glad to see some authors pushing back against that.  I look forward to seeing what comes of it.

  15. See guys— you can change the world!!

    We’re going to change the name. SFF Ethics is too stuffy. Watch this space. And yes, I do have the attention span of a monkey in an electric chair!!


  16. “We’re going to change the name. SFF Ethics is too stuffy. Watch this space. And yes, I do have the attention span of a monkey in an electric chair!!”

    Changing the name doesn’t make any difference if you still take the impression that you have some authority on what’s ethical and if you think anything not positive is unethical.


  17. It’s been awhile, John, but you’ve prompted another drawn-out response from me πŸ™‚  Or, rather, the typically-vocal crowd who frequents SF Signal has illicited a response.  For those who would like my thoughts on the pending “ethics” violations, visit:


    JB Dryden

  18. Andy’s point about trying to get some positive thinking into the SF/F/H community (see I underlined community which indicates we’re not discussing plots but people) seems to be reiterated by the amount of people who left negative comments and didn’t bother to read his explanations of the concept.  It just shows how much a place is needed for people who want to think happy thoughts.

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