Forward is an ongoing webcomic that updates on Mondays. It features scenarios and concepts that can be challenging or offensive, and although the comic proper does not feature graphic gore or nudity, it does include discussions of both difficult philosophical concepts and sexual scenarios, and is intended for an adult(ish) audience.
My primary goal, in writing Forward, is to explore the outer edges of what a "science fiction" story is. In particular, I'm fascinated with the idea of a Utopia.
Most stories set in a utopia - or even a mildly pleasant future world - are based around either evil threats to that utopia, or to uncovering some hidden dark secret that exposes the utopia as actually a dystopia. I don't want to tell that story. I understand that, if you think of "utopia" as a single, final, perfected place, then you can't tell a proper story there - there would be no conflict. If, however, you understand the concept as simply "a vastly better place than the present world", then conflict and stories within that world are absolutely still possible. I want - no, I need to explore what sorts of conflicts and stories those are.
Because I'll let you in on a little secret, folks - the future is coming.
Time keeps progressing onwards. You can try digging in your heels and slowing it down, and you may bear witness to some horrible setbacks, but the trends are clear - over time, technology improves, problems are exposed and fought, human rights get stronger, acceptance of diversity grows. Expecting the twenty-second century to look like a slightly shinier version of the twenty-first is as silly as expecting the twenty-first to revert to the sixteenth.
I choose to be optimistic. Not about individual people, or ideologies, or even nations, but about humanity as a whole. Racism and sexism and other forms of prejudice will always exist, yes, but we're more aware of them now, and better equipped to bring them to light and confront them. Inequality will always exist, yes, but new ideas and systems and programs will be made to ensure we live in a fairer world. Disasters will always happen, yes, but new technologies (and, more importantly, greater connection between people) will allow us to mitigate and alleviate them. I believe in a future that's more than a coat of chrome paint on the past.
They say good science fiction is a lens on the present, an oblique way of commenting on the world in which the authour lives. Fuck that. I say science fiction can be a way of anticipating - nay, demanding - what we want the world to become.
Because our ideas, our expectations - they have weight. They can change the world. They can enter the lexicon and prompt discussion and shift people's perspectives. I write hopeful, positive science fiction because I'm trying to drag your window of what's possible, what's realistic, what's real in the direction of utopia.
I have to. I can't not. It's what's in me.
The future is more than the last war with LEDs on the guns and the badguys painted like Zorblaxians. The future is more than modern racism translated onto mutants or cyborgs or furries. The future is going to be different from the present, and I want to anticipate and prepare for it.
I hope you like my comic.