Author's selfie Today I spent time in the Oakville Timberland Library. It’s a small community library in part of the city hall building (a portion doubles as the council chamber). The community spent time and money recently on renovations that made a big difference in the condition of the library. It’s great to see that people value the library. Although not as busy as an urban library, it provides a key place for members of a rural community with computer and Wi-Fi access, as well as books and all of the other resources it offers as part of the library system. In many of these small Washington towns, you see empty store fronts. At least here there is a library bringing value into the community.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Today, as I prepared an email about a science fiction training, I included this quote from Ursula K. Le Guin’s 2014 National Book Award speech.

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries, the realists of a larger reality.

(Transcript available at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction)

The speech includes other memorable lines, such as “Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art – the art of words.”

For all that, it is a short speech and well worth listening to and then thinking more about.

Art of Resistance

Cover art for Masterpieces of Short FictionOther ways of living depicted in art. That idea strikes a cord. This morning I started listening to one of the Great Courses lectures by Professor Michael Krasny Masterpieces of Short Fiction. I enjoy learning more. Krasny touches on the idea that fiction includes everything. Aspects of the author, the time period, as well as previous stories.

Fiction—art—has the power to show people an intimate glimpse inside the mind of another person in a way that we can’t manage in reality. It provides a mirror to either side of our nature. If the character represents the darker side of our lives, the art makes us reflect on how those tendencies exist inside of us. If the character reveals inner strength and other admirable traits, it encourages us to find those traits in ourselves.

Science fiction and fantasy use other tools to explore what are essentially alternate realities and ways of being. Of thinking.

PEN America (dedicated to defending free expression) recently held Writers Resist on the steps of the New York Public Library.

Tonight I watched Selma for the first time. It has been on my list to watch since I first saw the trailer (as have many other films) and today I had the good fortune to find the movie in the library. I was pleased that my son chose on his own to watch much of the movie with us and was justifiably outraged at the injustices depicted in this excellent drama. It isn’t a historical documentary, but it does a terrific job of telling a story.

We need storytellers and visionaries who won’t be silent. Although I write to entertain, today has been a reminder of the deeper values of fiction.