My SF Cannon

Yes, I am well aware that I am using the wrong spelling for canon, which, in case you aren’t familiar is defined as – “a collection of books accepted as holy scripture”.

I suppose though that in order to be completely accurate, the “holy” referenced above should probably have a silent “H” added to it, as in “Hholy”.  (Like the fannish “Ghod” or “Bheer”.)

What I’m really referencing here are the “sacred texts” that informed my exposure to science fiction literature and that I think are essential texts that should inform everyone’s exposure to the genre.

Should I unexpectedly be chosen as Emperor of the Universe (sometimes people call me “Ming”, so, it might happen), I would  immediately command the creation of a “Science Fiction Remediation Program”.  It would be involuntary, of course, as ALL good citizens of the Davidson Empire would need no prompting to fight their way to the front of the line in order to register – which is, of course,  MANDATORY.

There will be universal health care in my Empire, so fear not the bangs and scrapes and bruises of demonstrating your enthusiastic support, you’re covered.

And don’t worry about what appears to be a tremendous demand on your personal time, as Universal Basic Income is also a thing in my Empire.  Citizens without monetary concerns are happy citizens.  Happy, Happy, Happy.  You are happy, right?  OF COURSE you are.

Literacy programs are part of the mix;  if you can’t read, or don’t read well, we’ll make sure you can  and, again, this is a government program, so no cost to you.  Well informed citizens are happy citizens and being able to read is essential to being well-informed.  See how enlightened WE are?  Passing such a course is MANDATORY of course.  We’ll keep right after you, all the time, never ceasing in our efforts to make you Happy.

Of course, there are those who profess to not liking to read.  We have a special program just for that.  Of course we do. It would be a pretty poorly run Empire if we didn’t anticipate and prepare for all contingencies.  And it is NOT a poorly run Empire, is it?  Of COURSE not.  No one would dare say such a thing, would they?  Of Course Not.

For those  who profess a dislike for reading, we have prepared a special enclave, where all of their needs will be met while learning to LOVE to read.  Separation is of course necessary in order to give them undivided attention, to remove  the distractions of every day life and to keep them from being bothered by negative influences.  WE don’t like our citizens being subjected to unwanted negative influences, do we?  Of Course Not!  See how benevolent and caring WE are?  Always thinking of what is best for OUR citizens!

So what’s involved in the Mandatory Science Fiction Remediation Program?  Our goal for all graduates is a complete, thorough and intimate knowledge of all aspects of Science Fiction, from its literature to its fandom, from its origins to its current state.  Such an immersive course of study will be aided by a prohibition on the creation of all new Science Fiction, until such time as the entire population has been thoroughly grounded in the required materials.  Once everyone is up to speed and working from the same pages, so to speak, the creation of new Science Fiction will resume.  It will meet a ready market, since all citizens will be required to purchase and read any and all new materials.  Compliance means better sales for ALL!  Better sales make Citizens happy!

Further, there will be a moratorium, for the duration of this program, on the consumption of Science Fiction films, television shows, games, collectibles, clothing, ephemera, and etc., as the written word is the foundation upon which all Science Fiction rests.  Citizens will not want to be distracted  from their reading enjoyment.  Of course not!

Speaking of possible distractions, Empire Reading Monitors (a specially trained Force of Reading Enforcers) will be on guard, 24 hours a day, to insure that there are no distractions.  They will provide guidance, encouragement  and support to all citizens, whenever it is needed.  Citizens are grateful for this assistance, and even more so when they receive special attention.  Because Happy Citizens are Informed Citizens who  got Informed by Reading.  The Empire does not want unhappy citizens.  Neither do the Reading Enforcers.  Unhappy Citizens make Reading Enforcers Unhappy and we don’t want that, do we?  Of course not!

The First Section of the Science Fiction Remediation Program focuses on the history of the genre.  Citizens will read Trillion Year Spree by Brian Aldiss, master it and will then have their brains wiped, so that the contents of The Mechanics of Wonder by Gary Westfahl can easily replace the Wrong Think found in that previously mentioned title that our own brain wipe has caused us to forget.  And while we don’t remember why, Wrong Think is BAD.  Citizens of the Empire are not Bad.  Of course not!  WE will also take an Imperial Aside here to mention that WE took our own brain wipe because WE never ask our citizens to do anything that WE ourselves would not do.  Of course not!

After that, Citizens will be introduced to proto Science Fiction (Poe, Wells,  Verne, Burroughs, Arnold, Leinster (and EVERYONE else, of course).  Then, a thorough study of pre-Campbellian SF through such works as Science Fiction by Gaslight and Before the Golden Age.

Then, dive into Golden Age SF, starting with The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Adventures in Time and Space, A Treasury of Great Science Fiction, The Best of Science Fiction, The Pocket Book of Science Fiction, through annual anthologies, best of collections, all of the pulps (ALL of the pulps, we wouldn’t want to miss anything.  Of course not!)

There will, of course, be short breaks for meals, as it doesn’t take long to swallow a pill.  We want our Citizens to be  well nourished so they can devote themselves to their studies.  Of course we do!  There will also be time for sleep, mediated by sleep inducing currents.  We wouldn’t want any of our citizens to miss anything owing to over-sleeping.  Of course not!

Now, sadly, we must address the fate of those citizens who either can not or will not comply with all Imperial Edicts.

Did you see MY CANNON in the illustration that accompanied this edict?  Of course you did!  All citizens pay careful and strict attention to all Imperial Edicts.  Good citizens do not want to miss anything their Emperor might want to tell them.  WE wouldn’t want to have to use that cannon.  Of course not!  But if using it makes our citizens happy, well, WE’ll just have to use it, won’t WE?.  Keeping our citizens happy is our number one priority.  Of course it is!

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