Today's Tune: I'll Still Be a Geek After Nobody Thinks It's Chic (The Nerd Anthem)
A while back, the Sci Fi Channel changed its name to SyFy. I'm pretty sure when I started seeing the commercials advertising the name change was coming, my eyebrows went into my hairline. It didn't take long for me to figure out what they were doing.
Science Fiction is for nerds, see. Antisocial weenies with zits and glasses who play Dungeons and Dragons and lust after Seven of Nine. The theory was that the network wasn't receiving more viewers because people saw "Sci Fi" and were thinking, "Ew, geek TV. I hate Star Trek and alien movies." So they had to "coolify" Sci Fi's image by giving it a sleek new name to lure in all the SF haters. And yes, they so much as admitted this was true.
This attitude annoys me to no end, but what annoys me more is that it's not entirely untrue. People have preconceived and misplaced notions about Science Fiction. That it always involves space travel and/or aliens, for example. It's full of boring technobabble. Only people who eat physics for breakfast could enjoy such entertainment. IT'S DORKY.
And I'm here, of course, to tell you... UM, NO.
Here's a little factoid for SF haters... you don't hate SF. Maybe you don't like space operas or Doctor Who. But you don't hate SF. If you enjoy Star Wars... The Fifth Element... The Matrix... Weird Science... The Maze Runner... Leviathan... Boneshaker... Back to the Future... Ender's Game... Watchmen... A Brave New World... Firefly... Serenity... LOST... A Wrinkle in Time... The Golden Compass... Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...
I have news for you. YOU. LIKE. SCIENCE. FICTION.
And if you maybe sort of know of this one author who wrote a book with the tagline "Science Fiction for people who don't like Science Fiction?" Tricked, because YES YOU DO. Oh, and the fact that the vampires in said author's other universe are attempted to be explained by biology rather than myth? SCIENCE. FICTION.
Yes, I said it. If you like Twilight, YOU ARE A SCI FI NERD HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Sort of.
See, this is how insidious the aversion to SF has become. Even authors who are ACTIVELY WRITING LOOSELY BASED SCIENCE FICTION will not admit that they like it, or that they write it. How sad is that? I mean, genuinely, Ms. Meyer kind of hurt my feelings when she put out The Host with the caveat that SF was good enough to write on a lark, but not good enough to enjoy more widely.
But this is the thing: SF is a huge genre, and the only requirement is that the elements of a SF story are plausible within the natural or postulated realm of science. Outside that, the possibilities are endless. There's action, drama, spies, romance, hilarity, humanity, and really cool gadgets. James Bond? Also kind of Science-Fictiony, guys. Q doesn't magic those gizmos into existence.
There are hybrid genres, such as Science Fantasy, which is what Madeline L'Engle's series are often classified as. Unicorns who can travel via folds in the fabric of time and space? YOU BETCHA.
Why am I blabblering on about SF, anyway? Well, I write it. Almost any writing sample you're going to read on this blog is drenched in it. I feel obligated to break down the barriers that surround SF, and to remind everyone that it's not inaccessible. It's not all "hard" science. It's not nerdy. Not like being a nerd is bad ANYWAY, but I digress.
All I ever ask is for people to open their minds a little. Forget your biases. I promise you, there is a science-y novel out there for you somewhere. And hey, if you give it a chance and find you still think SF is totally boring, no harm no foul. I only want you to try. You don't have to go for the SF section of the bookstore and pick up the craziest looking space opera or anything.
Try some steampunk. Or FEED by M.T. Andersen. Something that piques your interest and makes you want to read.
Then read it.