First things first – I apologize for any typos and other random words that may find their way into this post. I’m in Nebraska for work, and I didn’t have my magic ball fully functional to know that I would probably want/need my personal lap top. So, yea! Blog post typed out on an iPhone. Just a sign of the times, right???
I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but yeah does not mean my life has been Sci-Fi-less. A few weeks (ok maybe months?) I watched Galaxy Quest and Robodog… And I think Hunger Games was in there somewhere as well. But ok, so maybe with the new job and everything else going on I’ve resorted to Disney animation, RomComs and NCIS marathons.
BUT in BIG NEWS…
I attended a SciFi conference.
Ok, so maybe that’s not news. Most of you probably already knew that I was going. But still – I actually did it! While I was mainly there to support my award-winning friend Suzanne Palmer (2016 Asimov’s Reader’s Choice for Short Story with her story “Tuesday” – CONGRATULATiONS SUZANNE!), I purchased a day pass for Saturday’s Science Fiction Writers of America Nebula Conference sessions.
And I had a great time. No matter what conference it’s been, it has always floored me at how supportive, enthusiastic and personable writers are when you get them in a group. I remember a while back Goodreads was exploring not allowing writers to review books because of the “competition” – events like this just emphasize how the good folk at Goodreads just really don’t get what it means to be part of the writing community. We love a good story – irregardless of whether or not we wrote it.
I attended four sessions. Two were reminders that this is an organization that has had some very public battle over inclusivity and social justice-related issues in recent years. One was on the moral responsibility of the story teller and the other was about being diverse in the Anglo-American tradition (or really, what I think I’m trying to say is the challenge in writing a non-Anglo-American story in a culture that values that tradition). Very interesting and thought provoking panels.
A third session was how to keep your day job while pursuing a writing career. It’s actually because of this session that I’m tipping this out on my phone rather than sitting down and doing it on the work laptop I have with me (I had really hoped I wouldn’t have to start carrying two computers with me…)
But the session that really made something click with me as it relates to this blog wasn’t about writing at all – it was on Citizen Science.
Everytime someone finds out I’m not a SciFi fan they seem baffled by it. I am, after all, a type of scientist. I get excited over things like measuring headstones to determine how acid rain is impacting the preservation of our cultural resources or joining the Audoban Society in conducting bird inventories. The new job is going to be great as I’ll be helping to advise citizen action groups on watershed protection issues. So why wouldn’t I like Science Fiction?
The speaker for the presentation was an astronomer from Adler Planetarium (have I mentioned I drove the 500 miles to Chicago for this?). She talked about how “citizens” have assisted in some really fantastic astronomical discoveries through collaborative portals that allows them to analyze images and post interpretations (Zooniverse is one of the portals sponsored by Adler, go check it out.) I could tell that everyone else in the room was really into what she was saying.
I was having a hard time staying awake. And while I could blame it on not getting checked into my hostel until 11:30 the night before and being so hopped on caffeine that then I had a hard time falling asleep, that would defeat the purpose. But as I was nodding off I found myself thinking, “geez, I really wish they had someone from Shedd Aquarium here instead.”
And that’s when it hit me. At the core of it, I’m really just not that interested in Space, and in my perception of the scifi genre, it’s so dominated by space operas and space technology that I’ve not been drawn into a lot of it. Even looking at the major awards that were presented this weekend, space was a theme – The Nebulas.
So, on my 500 mile trek to Omaha, I started mentally reviewing a list of scifi novels I’ve read in the past that aren’t space based –
Heinlen’s Stranger in a Strange Land
Bradbury’s Fehrenheit 451
Crichton’s Jurassic Park (ok, didn’t read the book but I enjoyed the movie)
and my mind is now currently drawing a blank on some of the others I came up with. But I’ve read both Fehrenheit and Stranger more than once, voluntarily because I genuinely enjoyed them.
Now, I realize I still owe y’all a blog or two or three on what constitutes science fiction because I could see on any of these titles how an argument could be made that they’re not really science fiction. But as I move forward and decide what to watch/read next, I’m going to be looking for stuff that isn’t necessarily space-based science.
Though if anyone has any suggestions on two very similar stories – a space opera and a non-space opera, it would be interesting to compare the two different approaches.