Science Fiction + Anthropology???

I always have a lot of irons in the fire. I work on film projects, create visual art, write and teach. However, everything I do is grounded in one thing, Anthropology.

When I was an undergraduate I changed my major… a lot. I started out in music performance (I was in rock bands and jazz bands playing the guitar) and realized that I was nowhere near as good as some of my fellow classmates. I got burned out and quit school for a while. When I went back I tried majoring in English and Creative Writing and then in Philosophy. Then one semester, I decided to take an Intro to Cultural Anthropology and it changed my life.

I quickly realized, that my whole life I have been fascinated by human beings and other cultures. After taking that course, I switched my major to Anthropology and Religious Studies. I went on to do field research schools in Northern Mexico and on Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation in Southern Colorado. Then I went to graduate school at Portland State University and worked on a project with 17 Native American Tribes of the Great Basin and a project that involved a community theater troupe in Denver. After finishing graduate school I began teaching at Metro State University of Denver and the University of Colorado at Denver.

There is little more I enjoy, then exploring other ways of knowing and experiencing the world. I have always wanted to understand what it would be like to see the world through many different sets of eyes.

So what in the world does this have to do with Science Fiction? Well a lot actually. Science Fiction, as most of you reading this probably know, is about creating a unique and different world from our own. It is about imagining the future (Note: for a wonderful blog on Indigenous Science Fiction visit https://medium.com/space-anthropology/navajos-on-mars-4c336175d945#.3sgnjptnl ) and other possibilities and potentials. In short, science fiction is about stepping back and trying to see the world through a unique set of eyes. This is not unlike cultural anthropology.

This is one of the reasons that my novel ‘Upon Stilted Cities’ doesn’t just have a singular main character/protagonist. Instead you view the world from several different individuals, each with unique perspective on a future world with giant walking cities. There are several different cultures within the book and I even took time to do some additional research on those cultures in the present and then attempted to imagine their future. Basically, I wanted to try and create a world that was as authentic and diverse as possible, all while crafting an engaging story with unique characters.

Science Fiction does not need to be informed by Anthropology, but the two are certainly complementary, just look at one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Kurt Vonnegut http://www.openculture.com/2014/02/kurt-vonnegut-masters-thesis-rejected-by-u-chicago.html

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