And now that I've infected you all with a Monty Python tune that isn't likely to go away without assistance... you're welcome. Did I mention I might be a tiny bit... evil? Mwhahahahaha. [cough]
Today, I thought we'd talk a bit about SF's current love affair with all things dark. Is it really all that current? Does it spell the end of the genre as some folks seem to believe? Does dark SF corrupt the young? And why are they so obsessed with it? Whatever happened to the happy days of happy SF? Really? All these questions have been discussed before, I'm sure, but a comment about the age of SF as a genre made an interesting connection for me. Not long ago I read a BBC article about how happiness changes with age. According to the article, when we're children we tend to be happier, and we tend to see the world more positively. As we reach middle age we tend to view life through a darker lens. However, if we manage to survive into old age our perceptions tend to return to positivity. The whole thing maps out in a giant U shape. Which brings me to the question I had: what if SF's attraction to the darker subjects is a sign of the genre's maturity as a whole? Or might it be only a symptom of fandom's aging? Should any of this be considered alarming?
Mind you, I don't believe in the idea that SF had a purely happy period. Any time I have this discussion, I've been able to point to popular, darker works written during the same era. Speaking for myself, I've always been attracted to the darker stuff. My reasons are many, not the least of which is that staring my fears in the face makes them less scary. I think it's important. One cannot resolve problems that one doesn't admit exist. If anything, for me, SF is a genre that is all about asking questions--even hard questions. So, in my opinion, this focus on the dark side of things is a positive thing. However, I understand that images sketched in monochrome are tedious. In art class, I learned that it takes at least three tones to make an image pop: dark, middle, and highlights. Thus, if you ask me, we need all three.
I don't believe that SF is dying out either. SF gets new readers all the time. Having worked in the teen fiction section at BookPeople for six years I've seen them. I can't help thinking of younger readers. I believe that the availability of dark fiction to younger readers--particularly teens--is a healthy thing. Teens are practicing adults, after all. What better way for them to explore dangerous subjects than in books?
I suspect that the ability to discount the relevance of undesirable information to the self in younger and older audiences is a factor in the complaints about SF being too dark. (Again, I don't believe that SF was ever 100% optimistic.) Consider the age of the person complaining. Might that not be the case? And before someone launches off on another round of how delusional optimistic people are I'd like to state that studies indicate that people with positive outlooks tend to live longer and fuller lives.
 I like that y'all's responses inspire posts like this. It makes my job a lot easier. Unfortunately, that means it takes me a while to get to the guest post part. But hey, it's a system that works. I'm going with it.
 And let's face it, they're going to explore dangerous subjects.