The faith of the SF writer

From James P. Hogan’s THE GENESIS MACHINE:

The Aub that Clifford grew to know better during this time turned out to be even better than his first impressions had suggested. Like Clifford, he was preoccupied, almost obsessed, with a compulsive urge to add further to the stock of human scientific knowledge; he had no political persuasions and few ideological beliefs, certainly none that could be classed as part of any recognizable formal system. He accepted as so self-evident that it was not worthy of debate the axiom that only the harnessing of knowledge to create universal wealth and security could provide a permanent solution to the world’s problems. It was not, however, the desire to discharge any moral obligation to the rest of humanity that spurred him Onward; it was simply his insatiable curiosity and the need to exercise his own extraordinary inventive abilities.

Actually, “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” is not exactly a new or aspiritual concept. The fact that adding to the stock of human scientific knowledge is what one wilts doesn’t change the fact that as described here, it is an entirely selfish exercise and however desirable it might be in comparison with another who wilts genocide or forced sexual pleasure derived by the use of violence and physical strength, it hails from the same ethical source.

Indeed, the notion that knowledge – for which “education” appears to be considered an adequate substitute, if not wholly synonymous – will provide a permanent solution has become a veritable religion of its own. It is a faith every bit as blind as the Communist religion; although it lacks a single, extraordinary prophet it does have a handy priesthood in the secular SF-writing community.

Handicapped by their youthful social inadequacies, this fairly intelligent group of people nevertheless can be depended upon to get it wildly wrong whenever it comes to the basics of human interaction. This is not only why their futuristic techno-utopias are usually designed to mimic economic and political models which are already defunct, but why their sex scenes are unspeakable disasters so clumsy as to make romance novels look sophisticated. The reason that the woman always takes the sexual initiative in an SF novel is that the overweight wallflower who has written the book cannot for the life of him imagine how one would even begin to go about seducing a woman.

The SF-writing community sometimes reminds me of the journalism crowd, another group notoriously bad at self-examination. They are smug in their certainty that they have no ideology, even as they go about the act of propagandistically furthering the supposedly non-existent beast.