I came across this Huffpost article celebrating the futuristic photography of Fabrice Monteiro last month, and it's stuck in my head since then. I love the inspiration of seeing science fiction themes in a form and setting I'm not used to.
Often, people consume genre-media mostly from their own cultures when they're young. Not intentionally - it's just what they're aware of, what they have access to. This was especially true for me growing up in a rural place. I read what was stocked at the local library, or books loaned to me by friends. I watched the shows that played on our limited TV stations - no cable to expand my horizons. I enjoyed the few movies stacked on top of our VHS, much-loved tapes recorded in an earlier age. I was lucky that, in my household, that included things like The Lord of the Rings books, Star Trek TNG, and Terminator 2.
With the rise of the internet, and moving to a city, my horizons have broadened considerably. My new 'local library' of content and ideas is Twitter. Sure, I tend to follow people who I have something in common with, but they also tend to have a lot of differences. They're from other states and other countries. They might like scifi or designing board games, but they also like a lot of diverse things that I've never heard of before. It seems like every day I see a photo or a video or read a story that opens my mind to new things, ultimately planting seeds that will grow and make my creations richer and more interesting than ever before.
Another reason these images in particular caught my eye is because the man-made materials vs. nature motif is something that always works its ways into my stories. In a lot of science fiction, this manifests strictly as a machine vs. nature conflict (think Avatar).
I never felt entirely comfortable with that idea. I love nature. I grew up in the forest, and for much longer than was necessarily sane or healthy I was obsessed with the idea of communing with fairies and woodland sprites. At the same time, I always got a sense that the natural world wasn't entirely made for me, or for other humans. As much as I loved spending time there, it wasn't a place I could wholeheartedly live my whole life.
Then I moved to New York City, the hub of all things manufactured and mechanical, with fingers of concrete and glass jabbing up into its sky, and roaring dragons of metal and electricity screaming through its bowels. And I found that I liked that, too. So my scifi stories became, not nature vs. machine, but a subtler exploration of what our future will look like, what the balance of things derived from nature and things derived from manufacturing will be. I'm always fascinated when people find ways to blend the two things, and in what I see as our best possible future, that's a big part of it.
At the same time, it's important to keep in mind that much in the realm of science fiction comes from concerns about things we're fighting against as a culture. On one level, the photos are beautiful, haunting, innovative. On another level, they call out environmental, social, and other problems that a particular culture is saddled with, problems that will only get worse (and lead to some of those dystopian futures we're so fond of writing about) if we don't do anything to fix them.
Have you had interesting inspirations from consuming genre media from other cultures? Share your experiences below!