The World in the Satin Bag has moved to my new website.  If you want to see what I'm up to, head on over there!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reader Question: Why Science Fiction?

This is an interesting question submitted by Perry on Facebook. The reason it's interesting is because I'm not sure what it's asking. It could be asking several different things at once, such as:
  • Why do you like science fiction?
  • Why do you write/blog about science fiction?
  • Why science fiction and not something else?
How exactly do I approach this question if there are so many ideas infused into it? I figure the best way to do so is to answer each of the questions above as best I can. Here goes:

Why do you like science fiction?
One of the great things about science fiction is that it never ceases to amaze me. While the genre has largely lost it's "wow" factor in the world, it is still a genre full of new and fresh ideas. The reason I like science fiction as much as I do is because I find the genre fascinating, whether it be far-future space opera or near-future hard SF. As a genre of ideas, it is one that constantly challenges me to rethink the world I live in, and the world I will one day live in, to rethink who I am and what it means to be human. Since my academic interests are invested in the notion of "the human," this is a perfect genre for bringing up difficult issues to deal with, particularly about humanity and the other (whatever that other might be).

I also happen to like spaceships and space battles. I like explosions and aliens and all the nifty cliches of the genre. It's sort of hard not to for me. I'm also a big fan of science, even if I am not, and never will be, a scientist. Science fiction either approaches science from a realistic perspective or from a perspective that takes liberty with reality. But in true science fiction, science is always there in some capacity. As an avid fan of science, science fiction lets me see an author's vision of the future based on where we are now; it's also fascinating to see how science fiction and reality blend together.

So, to put it simply: I like science fiction because it is the one genre that offers me everything I want in one package.

Why do I write/blog about science fiction?
I blog about a lot of things, but science fiction is certainly the big one. Fantasy and writing are pretty much tied for second place, I suppose. Blogging is, in part, an extension of what I want to do professionally. It's an avenue through which I can express my opinions on the genre and converse with other fans, etc. I can't exactly go down the street and find a big science fiction fan club to hang out in--I'm not even sure we have one in Santa Cruz. Blogging is basically the best way I have of communicating with folks interested in the same subjects as myself. And since I am going to be spending most of my academic career studying science fiction and its related genres, I find a blog is a healthy way of excavating ideas, thoughts, opinions, etc.--even if they're not particularly good ideas, thoughts, or opinions.

I write science fiction for an entirely different reason, though. I cannot for the life of me write anything but speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, etc.). If I start writing a story about the real world, I tune out. Getting excited about such things is impossible for me. The real world is too bland for my tastes, which probably says a lot about my tastes when there is so much going on in this world these days. But that's the truth. When I write normal fiction, I'm pretty much bored after sentence two; when I write science fiction or fantasy, it's a whole other story. I get excited about writing stories where I get to express my ideas of the future, or fiddle with concepts of humanity, etc. There's something purely enjoyable about writing in this genre. Maybe it's just me and I have some sort of ultra-fantasy gene. Whatever the internal or genetic reason, I write science fiction because I enjoy it. Period.

Why science fiction and not something else?
Well, I do like fantasy and related genres, but I am generally uninterested in fiction that is not fantastic in some way. The reason is that I find real life boring. I don't mean my real life, but real life as it pertains to fiction. There's nothing entertaining about people going through regular everyday things. I don't particularly care about anything to do with the real world, as far as fiction is concerned (non-fiction is an entirely different story). The thing is, I live in real life; I don't want to read about it.

For this reason, I am interested in science fiction and related genres both personally and professionally. I am fascinated by the fantastic, by spaceships and dragons and anything that lies in the cracks. If there isn't some sort of speculative premise in a story, I'm unlikely to read it with much enthusiasm. My tastes do change, though, and there are exceptions to this (Thomas Pynchon and a few African authors are good exceptions), but for the most part I stick to my guns on speculative fiction.

And that's that. Thanks for the question, Perry. Now I'll throw it out to all of you. Why science fiction? Or, if science fiction isn't your thing, why whatever you read (fantasy, horror, etc.)?

If you'd like to send me a question, you can email it to me at arconna[at]yahoo[dot]com, leave it as a comment here or anywhere, or send it as a twitter message with @shaunduke at the front of the message. Thanks.

Related Posts by Categories

Widget by Hoctro | Jack Book


  1. As a member of the Star Wars generation/personal computer generation, SF to me is about the things that are possible even in your wildest imagination. Now, granted, we live in the future Asimov predicted but the SF genre and it's tropes still continue to excite me. Personally, I stopped reading SF for awhile, instead focusing on the world of crime fiction. Now, I've had a reawakening of my love of SF/F and plan to start reading SF/F in addition to crime fiction. I wrote a western short story that, inexplicably, led me to a fantasy novel I've now started working on. Found your blog today via SF Signal and I'll be back.

  2. Scott: Thanks for stopping by! The cool thing now is that there's a lot of science fiction that is also crime fiction, so you can kill two birds with one stone. Have you read Jo Walton's alternate history series (Farthing, Ha'Penny, and Half a Crown)? You might like that.
    Anywho, thanks again! I'm also a Star Wars guys, although I'm not from that generation (I was born in the 80s, but grew up watching the series).

  3. I answered the question on my blog, here.

  4. Cool, thanks for letting me know!