Monday, May 10, 2010

Moving Away From Science Fiction and Fantasy

I loved fantasy and science fiction, and I thought I still did. But sometimes when one looks back, you start seeing a pattern emerging, and well, you notice how all the little things have come together to tell you something huge.

I am no longer a fantasy/sci-fi fan like I used to be.

I mean, I used to be such a huge science fiction and fantasy guy. I still have boxes full of science fiction and fantasy novels, short story collections and the like, and a lot of movies on VHS. I started my journey into fantasy with Terry Pratchett back when I was eleven, and I read everything I could get my hands on by him. I then moved into a wider world of genre fiction as I grew older, hitting many of the classic authors before I headed to university... Douglas Adams, H.G. Wells, Ellison, Bradbury etc. And I enjoyed programs and movies in those genres as well. For instance, I can't tell you how many times I watched Willow as a child, but it was quite a bit.

There is that dark period I will refer to as the Piers Anthony year, which I will not speak of except to note that in retrospect, being upset at 16 that I felt I would never be as great a writer as he who shall no longer be named after reading Refugee. Then I read Stand on Zanzibar and a lot of the New Wave of science fiction, and those notions of idolizing that man were quickly dissolved.

Then I entered university, and I think that is the point when things started to slowly change for me. I was exposed to a wider variety of literary traditions and critical styles, and while I still read a lot of sf and fantasy, this was clearly where myself and this kind of genre fiction began to part company, and not in a condescending way. I just think that I moved away from science fiction and fantasy proper. At no point did I think that I deserved better or that it lacked merit. I just found myself drawn to other kinds of literature and narratives.

Aside from science fiction in parodying animation, like Futurama and The Venture Brothers, I haven't really been watching science fiction/fantasy based television. When I think about it, there are only two science fiction themes that still keep my interest, time travel and robots/mechs. Other than those two, I am almost indifferent to science fiction these days, and it happened so gradually that it was only when thinking about where I am now that I could finally admit it to myself.

Let's look at a quick checklist of recent series I've never watched:

Firefly (the Whedonverse in general), Doctor Who, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, Farscape, V (the new one... I saw the original back when syndicated stations used to pick up old minis and recycle them)

I was even looking back at my top 25 list for the PS2, and aside from Ratchet and Clank, Disgaea, and TimeSplitters, which are all also funny, the entire list pretty much leans towards more contemporary, real world settings or tie-ins to existing media.

It was a shift rather than a break, because in the broadest terms, I still love genre narratives.... I just moved on to a different set of them (action/spy/mystery/crime). In retrospect, the fact that the Night Watch novels of Pratchett quickly became my favorites because they were police procedurals rather than straight up fantasy novels should have been a huge clue to me.

I hope that you, my geek brethren, can still accept me for who I am.


Megan said...

I haven't bought or read much of anything new in years, but the old stuff gets re-read every once in a while.

The offspring is full retard over Pratchett right now, so I'm having fun introducing him to that. I'm kinda jealous he has so many still to go...

MC said...

I just groaned because I did the math on that Pratchett thing. I read Mort in 1988... christ that was such a long time ago.

I do have to say he is cool though. I wrote him an email back in 1996, and he emailed me back, so that was one of the most awesome things ever to me at that time.

John said...

I've watched all 17 seasons of Stargate, and it's really good. Recently, I watched Babylon 5 all the way through, and it was excellent. I've started BSG, and it's quite compelling.

Farscape? Not worth it. The main character was so annoying.

MC said...

John, I think I have another reader who would disagree with you about Farscape.

Dan said...

I'm with the Lee on Farscape (not that he's spoken yet).

It's great stuff. Very hard sci-fi at the core, which is unusual these days.

Saying that, if you are going to watch one of the shows, watch firefly.

Mayren said...

peace upon you MC. If we all liked the same things, it would be a horrible world. Geekiness does not dictate the loves of your life; Your loves in life dictate your geekiness.

Arjan said...

the stargate (and I'm not saying Atlantis or Universe) is a hard one to follow, but it will be accepted :)

Watch what you want to watch and read what you want to read, there's always too much stuff around to fill 24h a day.

Lee Sargent said...

No Firefly!?!
No Farscape!?!?
No Stargate!?!?!?

It hurts just typing those words! I do highly recommend and stand by the first two on my shocked list. Firefly is only 14 episodes plus a movie so it's fairly easy to get across. Farscape is really worth the journey and Stargate is just really long and consistent.

Try Lexx :)

MC said...

Lee: We are talking the tip of the iceberg. BTW, did you ever manage to finish off Alias?

Arjan: So much grindhouse, so little time.

Mayren: Well said my friend, well said.