FAIR AND BALANCED

At the risk of sounding like Fox News, the “fair and balanced” thing has been on my mind lately, although not in connection with politics but with fiction.  I just finished a novella about an always controversial subject, GMO crops.  One of the problems I have with a lot of science fiction is the Evil Bad Guy (sometimes it’s the Evil Bad Corporation or the Evil Bad Secret Organization).  Pure evil, seeking to cause suffering for its own sake, exists in the world, but it’s rare.  Most evil actions happen because the perpetrator has some twisted rationale (but there IS a rationale), or to maximize profits, or just from short-sighted stupidity.  Those motives may still cause tremendous suffering, but they are more comprehensible (even when not forgivable).  Thus, when I write stories, I try to understand why the antagonists are doing what they’re doing, besides merely “This will make the plot go.”

With GMOs, there are arguments on both sides of the issue (although not, to my thinking, equal arguments).  This is not a question of good vs. evil, but it is a question of heated opposing viewpoints.   So when I wrote “Sea Change,” I tried to keep that in mind.  Doing so requires a lot more research, a lot more thinking, and a lot more nuanced characters than just a strawman villain, set up only to be easily knocked down.  Ethics are always more complicated than T-shirt slogans.

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