The submissions for Rocket Science continue to roll in, and the end of the reading period moves another week closer. Most submissions have been short stories, but I’m still looking for non-fiction. So if you have an idea for something that might fit, send it in. The standard of stories I’ve seen so far have been mostly high, but one thing I have noticed in many of them is a lack of thematic depth. This may be just me, and I may well be missing something the author has put into the story, but it seems to me that many of the submissions I’ve seen only really operate on one level. Admittedly, many sf stories are patterned on “see problem, fix problem, succeed or fail” and all the words in the piece are dedicated to describing that.
I’ve always felt there’s room in science fiction – even in hard science fiction – for an approach which is similar to that of mimetic fiction, an approach that is observational and metaphorical, that uses the plot to say something interesting and specific. Far too many sf stories rely on generalities for their motifs: the human condition, identity, the meaning of life, etc. Science fiction can also be a very personal mode of fiction, and there are no rules or regulation which limit where the level of focus of a story should lie. Hard sf especially is a sub-genre you expect would respond well to a high level of detail, a display of technical and/or scientific detail, much in the same way some mainstream and thriller writers brand every object they place in a story – Fleming’s 007 novels, for example; or American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.
Which is not to say that I’m going to reject everything I see from now on that doesn’t meet the above. Nor, to be honest, will I look especially favourably on a submission that does, but doesn’t meet my criteria in any other fashion. It’s simply something to think about…
Speaking of which, here’s the customary breakdown of submissions to date by writers’ genders and nationalities: