the_archfiend: (Default)
(Posted for Speak Out With Your Geek Out)

Many, many moons ago - while blundering through the horror of what's termed "Sophomore year in high school" - an anti-social miscreant primarily interested in punk rock and other forms of loud, abrasive music happened upon a couple of import paperbacks at a long-dead bookstore (across from the more famous but equally dead Wax Trax records on Lincoln Avenue north of Fullerton) in Chicago.

The two PBs in question were a novelization of the Doctor Who serial The Nightmare of Eden and a UK printing of Philip K. Dick's Doctor Bloodmoney: the purchase of the first was inspired by watching the show Sunday nights on WTTW (my last respite of sanity previous to having to slog back to high school the following Monday); the last one, oddly enough, was inspired by my reading an interview with PKD that had appeared in a double issue of the Los Angeles punkzine Slash. Although the book version of Nightmare was better than the actual televised version I saw a few months later, one thing stuck with me about both it and Bloodmoney; it made me want to read. And it made me want to read more SF.

It's now over 30 years later. I haven't read a Who novelization in a long, long while, but I've never stopped reading  - or appreciating - SF. It's almost as central to my attitude towards life (such as it is) as my interest in music, science, history and the like, and that's saying a lot for what is still considered an "escapist" form of literature. "Escapist". Sure. Was Stand in Zanzibar by John Brunner "escapist"? What about The Sheep Look Up, the Jagged Orbit or The Shockwave Rider? None of those novels would be characterized is "escapist" by anyone except a total loon if they had been classified as mainstream fiction, but the "Sci-Fi" tag always seems to take the air out of serious arguments presented in a fictional form merely because people can't get past the BEM/raygun stereotypes they have of the form. The same, sad to say, is true of their perception of the fans - even if you're ridiculously photogenic to the point of being slapped on a cover of GQ or Cosmopolitan, it's automatically assumed that you have secret fantasies of making out with a tentacled alien if you can actually read, say, Ken MacLeod's The Cassini Division with any sense of real enjoyment. 

Problem is, that's a load of nonsense. Judging by the bus I used to take to and from work, roughly half to two thirds of the people sitting on it as passengers who were reading anything were reading SF and fantasy. So much for odd make-out fantasies, eh?

So do yourself a favor, kids; the next time somebody knocks you for liking Stargate or for reading the latest Iain Banks novel, remember that you'll be enjoying those books and series and others for life; they'll only be enjoying themselves for a few minutes before they wake up to the reality that they have to go back to flipping burgers after school and that, unlike you, they can't escape to somewhere in their imagination. And you, on the other hand, can.

September 2017

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