I was brought up on a strict diet of Star Trek, Star Wars and basically any scifi that my parents could get their hands on back in the 90s in Tokyo. We had friends in the USA tape the latest TV programs including Babylon 5, send then in the mail and then binge watch them, about 4 episodes a night. I have been binge watching scifi before it was even an option for the rest of the world. So it was of no surprise that the material I wanted to read the most was scifi. I tried the American Girl series, remember those? But I hated them. I would sit there and turn the page every five minutes or so rather than actually read them. Then I met Bruce Coville, and Aliens Ate My Homework and caught the reading bug.
In my naivete, I thought this was normal. I’d never met anyone who didn’t love scifi. At university I found out the hard way, and got strangely made fun of for this love. Someone told me that they only read real literature, or rather realistic fiction. What is interesting to them is real life. They don’t need to pretend. Human nature is the biggest mystery. I was surprised, I felt a bit of shame, and then I got over it and kept on reading what I liked.
But I disagree with his premise. I have read widely now, and I do like ‘real life’ fiction, but it will never be scifi. Less imagination, and it is only with scifi that you can test human nature to the ultimate limits–see what those characters are actually made of. I can go through my own life experiences real life, I want my reading to be more than that. Also, I want to believe in more. I want to believe in the impossible. There is a sort of optimism in scifi even when it turns to horror from humans experimenting where they shouldn’t. We are curious. We push boundaries! Its exciting.
So I guess I’m wondering, is there a stigma against reading scifi? Or did I just meet a few jerks back in university (very possible)? Is there a stigma against writing scifi? I was excited to see that locally here in New Zealand this one guy has just set up his own scifi exclusive publishing house. It is beyond cool.