Riding the Human Wave

Readers and Writers, Unite!  You have nothing to lose but a lot of really boring books filled with futility and self-loathing!

We’ve started a movement.  A literary movement, even.  Human Wave SF.  We’re still deciding the rules, whether we’ll have rules, logo, etc. but we’ve got a website so you know we’re legit.  The splendid and worthwhile Sarah Hoyt asked the question “Where’s the sense of wonder in science fiction anymore?”.  Lots of people discovered they had the same question, and wondered what we could do about it.  So, we are bringing Sensawunda back!  The plan is to have a hand-wavy kind of general agreement about what we are promoting, then we’ll collect up writers who want to be identified with our particular brand of insanity, list them on the blog, collect already published books to point to as examples for the curious, and stuff like that.


Sabrina’s Version of the Human Wave Credo:

In my books–

1.  Somebody wins.   So far it’s always the heroes, after much struggle and sacrifice, because that’s what I like to read.  But somebody has to win, and something has to happen after 300+ pages.

II. Having Fun is a complete and sufficient defense.

3.14 Pie is a good thing.  The Dark Side says it has cookies, but we have pie.

D. Remember you are competing for beer money.

5.a A character’s race, species, age, gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, presence/lack of sexual activity, political donation history, hobbies, physical pathology, national origin (except Belgians), ranking in the Meyers-Briggs scale, handedness, musical preference, or tendency to carry a grudge for all eternity is NOT DETERMINATIVE of virtue or guilt. For the Avoidance of Doubt, that means:

  • Humans are not inherently evil.  Nonhumans are not inherently perfect.
  • Heroes can be male and white, villains can be female and black, and the whole ensemble can be straight.  IT’S ALLOWED.  The logical inverse is also permitted.
  • Using the above or similar characteristics as shortcuts to avoid writing well-developed, complex characters is cheating and will result in points subtracted from your final score.

iii. The Reader does not wish to be beaten over the head with your Moral Message for Mankind. (see rule D).  Yeah, yeah, you have something to say but you don’t need to hire a lecture hall.  Negative example–Ayn Rand.  Positive example–Terry Pratchett.  He’s got lots of message and meaning but he lets the characters play it out for you.

404.  If Technology is Evil, Why are you Wearing Clothes? (Corollary: If Corporations are Evil, why do you have an iPhone?)  It is our happy hominid nature to poke things with sticks and figure out how they work.  Then we figure out how those things can be useful to us.  This is why we are not currently lion kibble on the Serengeti.  Personally, I prefer this scenario.

g. Nature is Stupid.  It’s just very big and there’s a lot of it so it can kill you quite easily, but it doesn’t, per se, care.  Or think.  Respect it like a huge brain-damaged poisonous  snake, but don’t worship it or ask it for investment advice.

401(k) Your Book Will Live On.  Try not to have a worldview determined by today’s headlines.  Thirty years from now, will your readers know or care about ${PoliticalScandalDuJour}?  At the time people cared a great deal about the election of Millard Fillmore.  Now, not so much.  For extra credit, look up the profound repercussions of the Pig War.  (Yes, actual declared war between the US and Britain that nobody remembers.  No joke.)

3a4d. Puzzles are fun, Science is cool.  Let your characters figure out the world around them and discover new things.  Let your readers figure it out a little bit ahead of the characters.  This releases serotonin and promotes relaxation in both body and wallet.


Exemplars, past and present:  (writers who get it)

H. Beam Piper

Edgar Rice Burroughs

E.E. “Doc” Smith

James Schmitz

Terry Pratchett

James P. Hogan

Steve Miller and Sharon Lee

Anne McCaffrey

Eleanor Cameron (oh come on.  The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet??? Classic!)

Larry Correia

…more to come…

6 thoughts on “Riding the Human Wave

  1. Love the ordering. What have you got against Belgians? Apart from their propensity to waffle that is?

  2. “It is our happy hominid nature to poke things with sticks and figure out how they work. Then we figure out how those things can be useful to us. This is why we are not currently lion kibble on the Serengeti. Personally, I prefer this scenario.”

    Captures the core of expectational optimism in a very nice metaphor, including its survival (problem solving) and selection (happy) benefits. Nice.

    And you just sold a book. Thanks for writing!

    • Thanks for your support, and I hope you enjoy the book! I have a *totally* Human Wave SF trilogy coming out this year, too. Stay tuned!

  3. Pingback: Human Wave Science Fiction – Reading List | J.A. Marlow