Where does AltSciFi come from? Who are we? What are we about?
These questions are continually refined as the composition of our membership changes over time.
AltSciFi presently operates on three axes:
Tech, art, and sex.
1. Techies who love art and sex;
2. Artsies who love tech and sex;
3. Sexies* who love tech and art.
Art-loving techies are our primary audience, although only because they are most intimately connected to technology. Who would love sci-fi more than people who are creating the future?
Cryptography and information/network security are the two aspects of tech that will have the greatest basic impact on our global civilization in decades to come. Hence, we focus there as a foundation for building plausible, science-based “hard sci-fi” ideas. The freedom of the individual and our collective survival depend on the balance of secrecy, privacy, and publicly accessible information.
The Race and Politics of AltSciFi
We are, however, apolitical and non-racial.
“But that’s impossible!”, you might say. “We all have a race, and any citizen lives in a political environment. We all have politics of some kind; if you pay taxes to a central government, you’re supporting its political system, too.”
Here’s what apolitical and non-racial means in this context:
Politics are essentially a form of theater for the average citizen. Real politics consists of evaluating issues, making up your own mind, and voting for candidates who align with your perspective. All the bluster and arguments that take place online are little more than gossip for those who are bored and enjoy wasting time with endless debates.
Race is a communally believed fiction; there is no scientific basis for dividing humans into “races”. Opinions about race tend to change glacially, in tandem with socially acceptable beliefs about art, technology and sex (i.e. culture). Simply pointing out the fictional nature of race is enough. For our purposes, the rest is little more than political chatter that often encodes and hides socioeconomic influences and biases.
Gender is a fiction as well; it is a set of acculturated behaviors, not biological facts. The existence of transgender and transsexual people further provides evidence for this truth. Gender is considered (by some) to be more fluid than race, hence it offers a glimpse into the malleable nature of human identity.
Race may one day be recognized as changeable (yet for some people, intrinsic) as gender. For now, science fiction can address both race and gender directly or through metaphors of the “alien” and the “Other” — creatures who are foreign, yet nonetheless essentially human.
Both Human and Alien: Beauty and Sex in Science Fiction
Technology and art are obvious, but why is sex so important in the AltSciFi formulation of sci-fi?
Sex matters because it is at once fundamental to our existence as animals, and at the same time the source of endless doubts and controversies. A naive and curious space alien might ask: What makes a man? What makes a woman? Is it not strange that in some cultures, women jealously guard their breasts as if nipples have magical powers? Isn’t it fascinating that in some parts of the world, there are more than two recognized genders? At a time when genetically perfect babies can be born in laboratories, how does sex, gender and sexuality change? What happens when a person born with one set of genitalia can decide to undergo hormonal treatments and gender reassignment surgery?
Deviancy, Fantasy and Consensuality
It’s also worthy of note that most people have engaged in, or at least fantasized about, sexual activities that they dare not share with others for fear of shame or ostracism. Fictional characters and scenarios — not only in romance novels or erotic stories — provide an ideal medium to explore such issues in creative ways.
All consensual sex is “normal” as far as all involved parties agree that their activities are based on shared desires. Perversion begins in minds that would censor the prerogative of others to safely enjoy themselves in a private space. Fiction that points up such a dissonance between (morally) right and (socially) “proper” uncovers a diverse menu of sci-fi story possibilities.
Beauty, Style, Biology and Technology
What is beauty in a world of fluid sexual and gender identity?
These are all questions that are ripe for a genre like science fiction to play with and expand upon. Sexuality obsesses, repulses, delights and drives us. Technology of various kinds is opening up avenues for personal beauty, fashion, style and expression in ways that were both socially and physiologically unheard of only a few decades ago. Imagining possible and plausible futures requires a comprehensive vision that includes gender, sex and sexuality.
You might say that AltSciFi exists at the heart of a Venn diagram of sorts: tech, art, and sex.
It’s a great place to be, and offers a uniquely open perspective to the varieties of human experience. If we can see even a few years into one of many futures, we may then able to shine a beam or two back onto who we are right now, and who we want to be. Insight into ourselves, after all, is what real science fiction is all about.