Musings – What can an Author do?

Flying to the Stars

Flying to the Stars

Like most of us, I expected the 21st century to be good. I thought a lot of the amazing things from Star Trek and other SF would come true, or be closer to becoming reality.

And we dreamed about all of it.

I thought we’d make amazing technological progress as well as getting better as a society. Equal rights. Eliminate hunger. Educate all children. And of course, all of this:

Flying cars.
Clean, limitless energy.
A society that is inclusive and caring.
Space explorations.
A Moon colony.
And possibly, maybe, clear steps towards peace on Earth.

And we truely do have amazing things:

Pocket computers
Free video phone calls
Self-driving cars (they are coming)
Solar energy
Private space companies
Indie publishing

And yet, 17 years into this brilliant, bright, exciting new century… the world looks dark and threatening.

This year is starting out much, much darker than I ever expected.

Authoritarianism on the rise.
Populist parties everywhere.
Democracies losing fundamental elements.
Hungaria, Turkey, Egypt, Poland.
Wars. Syria still tearing itself apart.
Russia, which never really was much of a democracy… working to destabilize the West
And now the big elephant in the room: America.

It seems the American people elected (in the way the system works) an archeype of American society: A con man. A gangster boss. A dye-in-the-wool, brutal, selfish capitalist who will recklessly plunder his own land and as much of others as he can, and pocket the dollars himself.

Suddenly, this bright, new century looks like a repetition of the ones before.

Dark beginnings.

1814/15 Congress of Vienna, the attempt to resore order after the devastating Napoleonic Wars
1914-18 First World War, with horrible casualties and the first use of chemical warfare
2017… we don’t know yet, but I’m scared of an almost casual use of nuclear weapons – worst case scenario… imagine a single, strategic nuke dropped on Beijing, eliminating China’s government… someone might get away with it… blackmail the rest of the world for a while. Until we have an all-out war.

Dark times.

So what can an author do?

What can I do?

I know that people usually don’t want to read dark stories in dark times.

Which means I should spend my time writing fun adventures with happy endings. Stories that help my readers escape the fear of what is going on in the world right now.

But shouldn’t I do more? Isn’t there a responsibility to teach? To encourage? To motivate?

To stand up for my values and convictions, but how?

How can I make it matter?

What do you do, fellow authors?

About Hannah Steenbock

Hannah Steenbock is an author, dreamer, and coach. She has published several short stories in English and German, as well as one novel in German. In 2013 she started self-publishing her work. In 2014, she has won two awards for her short story "Sequoia".
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