Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why Science Fiction

In life we all need role models, someone that shines the light of inspiration to fuel our aspirations. The entertainment media, like books, usually provide that inspiration through strong characters doing the right thing during difficult situations. I am using science fiction to interject positive African American role models into an entertainment media that is bombarded with negative characters that somehow have become role models.

As a child I watched many action adventures, read comic books of superheroes and was captivated by science fiction television shows. However in the seventies, as I entered my teen years I noticed that the role models on television shows and in movies as well as in books were white. Upon further review, I concluded that in the entertainment media African Americans were portrayed as comic relief characters, sidekicks, pimps, hustlers or thieves. I remember having an argument with my friends over who was better, "Shaft" or "Superfly." Needless to say, I was in the minority. Then I noticed most of my peers who feared they would not go to college aspired...actually become pimps, hustlers and drug dealers. Unfortunately, about ninety percent succeeded. I attribute this to the lack of role models and the bombardment of negative stereotyping in the entertainment media. So as a teenager, I created my own role models through story form.

In my English and Creative Writing classes, I wrote police dramas, adventure and science fiction stories, with African American protagonists. The story of the Osguards is my science fiction creation that began as an honors English class writing assignment in 1978. It garnered laughs from both white and black students in the class because they could not fathom African Americans as leaders, especially commanders of complex and intricate spaceships. But I received praise from the teacher for a bold effort.
Several years ago, due to a professional setback in my career, I resolved to focus my frustration in a positive manner. So I decided to write. I chose science fiction because of the freedom of imagination the genre allows. It also allows me to inject other genres like mystery, crime, love or adventure stories into it.

My question to you...why do you read science fiction?

Malcolm "Rage" Petteway

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