Chief Petty Officer Tyrol: “What do you want to do now, Captain?”
Lt. Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace: “The same thing we always do. Fight ’em until we can’t.”
“When I get mad I put it down on a pad.”–Chuck D, Welcome to the Terrordome
So back on Nov 9th I found myself in something of a daze. First it felt like a punch to the gut. I wasn’t sleeping well, and I was constantly tired. I barely ate. Momentary glimpses of bright thoughts were quickly swallowed by a looming darkness. It wasn’t until I was at an event with several other people, who were all describing the same hollowed out feeling, that someone pointed out what was happening.
“You’re in mourning,” she said. “It’s grief. And we’re all feeling it.”
That was it exactly. I could remember feeling this way only on one other occasion. When someone very close to me had died. It was that same lethargic sensation, of feeling drained and sapped of energy and will. But this was worse. Because unlike those times, where everyone reassured you that with time the feeling would pass, there was still that looming darkness–and it was only growing. A sickening understanding that the worst parts hadn’t even begun. A knowing that things were going to get much, much worse, before they ever got better. It was a gaping hole, a yawning abyss that was easy to tumble down if only because that (at least) offered an escape.
It felt like when the Ministry of Magic had fallen. Like when Darth Sidious had the clone troopers “execute Order 66.” Like when the Cylons marched into the settlement at Caprica City. It’s that part of the story when there seems to be no hope, when the odds seem insurmountable.
Then I remembered, that’s not where these stories end. Resistance always sprouts–whether in the basement of Hogwarts, somewhere on backwater Tatooine, or among the last human survivors of New Caprica. Sure our looming dystopia will throw up challenges and spit out many-mouthed eldritch horrors. But we will fight. We always fight. It’s what SFF has taught us to do. It’s what storytelling has taught us to do. Why? The answer is simple. And we all know it. Neo told it to Agent Smith. We fight, because we choose to. Because we can.
The coming struggle will take many forms. It will be in the courts and in the streets. It will be in the workplace and in the entertainment arena. It will call for folks to organize and mobilize and challenge injustice, at great personal risk. And have no doubt, that it will be a struggle. As Frederick Douglass reminds, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
So what part will writers and illustrators and comic book writers and creators of SFF play in this coming struggle? We writers of small people standing up against terrible Dark Lords? We dreamers of underdogs pledged to fight world-destroying interstellar empires? We creators of the smallest glimmer of hope in the darkest authoritarian futurist dystopias? We builders of worlds where a few determined heroes and heroines can tear down even gods?
That’s up to us. To decide to see this story through. To write and dream of that better ending. We’ve been shown the way. By early black writers who used SFF to confront the racial terror that threatened to swallow them. By the works of Afrofturist writer and activist Walidah Imarisha who calls for “visionary fiction” that uses “science fiction, horror, and fantasy genres to envision alternatives to unjust and oppressive systems.” By writers like Troy L. Wiggins who calls on artists to “create kickass art that challenges people,” for creatives and activists to strategize their collective resistance: because even the Lich King “can be taken down in a 25-player raid.”
So creators of SFF, those of us who choose to REBEL:
WRITE IN RESISTANCE.
WRITE WITH PURPOSE.
WRITE TO INSPIRE
WRITE TO FRUSTRATE.
WRITE BEYOND ALL OF THIS.
WRITE OUR BETTER ENDINGS.