Oh science fiction, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Ursula Le Guin. Nicola Griffith. Octavia Butler. Simon Ings. Philip K. Dick. It started with fantasy. I’ve loved fantasy for as long as I can remember. I sought fairies in the hidden places. The magic I found in books seeped quietly out into the world.
We listend to the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit BBC audio productions on the drive down to my grandparents’ house. I read The Earthsea Trilogy (an introduction to Le Guin’s writing that would eventually lead me to both anarchism and science fiction, thanks Ursula). For a long time I was a horror and mystery junkie. The Raven is the only poem I have ever tried to memorize (I can still do about five stanzas). Yet I cannot pinpoint the moment when I fell in love with science fiction. I remember watching Star Trek (Next Generation) with my mom, and the original Star Wars trilogy. But what was my first science fiction read? I’ll never know.
Can you track the trajectory of taste? Can a love of a genre really be explained? Is it all just a coincidence?
When did it become a serious obsession? Was it love at first sight? I envy those who can answer these questions with certainty.
What I do know is this: The Dispossessed rocked my shit when I read it during my senior year at college. Philip K. Dick rocked it again and again around the same time. Did I even read science fiction before then? I have no idea. I remember loving the magical realism and the fantastic that I came across during my studies, but otherwise? Amnesia.
What I do know is that it gradually became my favorite genre. Science is interesting, particularly the social sceinces and the way exploration of an alien world can so poignantly comment upon our own. I don’t like reading the sad boring books about reality (more like “reality,” really) anymore. If I want to feel depressed, I’ll read the newspaper. When I want to read stimulating analysis of our world, I’ll turn to science fiction. Every time.
November is Science Fiction Month. To celebrate, we’ll be braying about one of our favorite genres quite a bit in the next few weeks (business as usual). If you’d like to follow some of the other bloggers who are taking part in this month-long celebration of the best genre ever, then visit Oh, the Books right here.