So I got a question in my inbox that is chock full of spoilers, so I can’t answer it the traditional way. I’d still like to address the sentiment, though, so I’m going to block out the spoilery sections to make it safe for general consumption.
Why didn’t you explain what happened to [character] more? Now we don’t … even know if it’s a happy ending or not! I loved this book up until you did that. Tell me whether I’m suposed to be happy or sad!!
Well, first of all, I will say this: the thing, the event, the twist to which you are referring, is something that definitely divides our audience. Mostly we’ve had great feedback about it, which is lovely, to see people experiencing reading what we experienced writing it. We do occasionally get readers with your reaction, and that’s fine too. You’re allowed to feel however you feel about a book, just as authors are allowed to make whatever choices about their books that feel right to them as artists.
But secondly, and most importantly, this is science fiction. True science fiction asks questions of its readers. What does it mean to be human? How do we fit within this universe? What makes us different? What makes us the same? And while sometimes SF answers those questions, more often than not it leaves it up to you, the reader.
Science fiction WANTS you to struggle, and to ask questions, and to think about what you’re reading. If all books were easy, we’d never learn anything or change or be affected by what we read. We wanted people to ask the very questions you’re asking about [character]. It’s part of the experience.
Science fiction is very rarely black and white. If you want books that are easily categorized as “happily ever after” or not, if you want a book that spells out exactly how you’re “supposed” to feel, you might be reading the wrong genre.
So I’ll leave you with this: what do YOU think it means for [character]? Forget the words on the page, the black and white… does it feel like a happy ending to you? Because whatever you’re feeling… that’s what you’re supposed to feel. There’s no right or wrong response to a book, there’s only what you feel.