Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc (the latest of which is Vacant), has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily all at the same time! You can visit her at Twitter at @ahugheswriter or on the web at www.ahugheswriter.com.
by Alex Hughes
A friend came to me about a year ago, and told me that she’d been hearing a lot about this Doctor Who thing. She and I had been roommates years ago, and she respected my opinion on TV shows. Now, even though she didn’t like “the whole aliens thing” she wanted me to show her a few Doctor Who episodes so she could understand what it was all about. I said sure, and we watched the first weeping angel episode, the Pompeii episode, and one set in Victorian England. She had a very skeptical look on her face when we finished, and I assumed that was that.
Two months later, she came back, and she told me that she’d been binge watching Doctor Who on Netflix for weeks. I was surprised, and asked why. She told me that while she still wasn’t crazy about “the alien thing” that the show wasn’t really about the aliens. It was about us, about humanity. And that it gave her hope at the end of the day that we might yet work things out. I smiled. I had just converted one more poor unsuspecting soul into the world of geekdom.
What my friend realized on her own was something us geeks have known for a very long time. Science fiction and fantasy aren’t about the aliens, or at least not often. Most of the time the stories we tell are stories about us, about our hopes and our fears, and our choices to embrace the very best of humanity, the very worst, or anything else in between.
I love writing, reading, and watching science fiction / fantasy because, after you’ve had a chance to play in the multiplicity of universes, times, and possibilities, the real world can at times feel like a very small, very ordinary sandbox. The speculative fiction world is so much bigger, and richer, and lets me explore lives and worlds I would never have encountered in my real life.
But it’s also about us. Who we are as humans, and the choices we make to be good people, bad people, or some shade in between. That’s why the conversations we have in fandom really matter-we’re having conversations about our deepest loves, and fears, hopes and terrors. We’re connecting with other people who love and fear too. And it’s why we as writers have such a huge responsibility to bring our own loves and fears onto the page.
With all the worlds and all the possibilities in the multiverse available to play in, there’s so much room at the table. It’s literally an infinite table, like the Tardis, much bigger than it appears to be. If a section of that table doesn’t appeal to you, keep walking-there will be another filled with people who love what you love and understand the conversations you want to have. But approach everyone at the table with respect. Because they too, come to the table with their own stories and their own loves and fears. They might want to talk about the aliens more than the humans, or the fears more than the hopes. You don’t have to listen in depth. But you do have to nod as you pass their seats, offering a thread of respect and hope in turn. Because this table, this multiverse, is us, all we are and all we could be.
Is something missing from the table? Please, show us. Write (or record, or create) the new amazing worlds we’re missing. There’s plenty of room, and the universe loves wondrous variety.
Does someone not know about the Amazing Thing at your end of the table? Don’t scoff at them. Tell them about your love, and help them to love it too.
Does someone love some corner of the table you don’t? Nod in respect, and keep walking.
Fandom has been an odd and scary place lately. I open up my Facebook or my Twitter feed and I read about people being bullied, being threatened, being cast out, being afraid for their lives and their safety and the future of the multiverse. And I hurt for them, and I don’t understand. This is not what our worlds are about. This is not who we are, or who we should be.
The worlds are us, and we are the worlds.
As I write, as I sit down to put myself and the worlds on the page, I ask, what do I want to be? I want to be someone who does what Doctor Who did for my friend, someone who shows who we are, and lets you walk away with hope.
And I ask, all of you, who do you want to be? What worlds will you build with us? Let them be good ones. Let them be ones of wonder and joy and exploration, more than fear and anger. Let them be something we are proud of. We need those worlds.
Courtesy of the publisher, we have a copy of the Clean by Alex Hughes to give away to 1 lucky SF Signal reader! This is the first book on the Mindspace Investigations series.
Here’s more about what the book is about:
A RUTHLESS KILLER — OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars.
My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary.
Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.
And here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:
- Send an email to contest at sfsignal dot com. (That’s us).
- In the subject line, enter “Mindspace Investigations“
- In the body of the email, please specify your digital ebook format: epub or mobi.
- Geographic restrictions: This giveaway is open to everyone.
- The giveaway will end Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014 (9:00 PM U.S. Central time). The 1 winner will be selected at random, notified, and announced shortly thereafter.