Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Things I like: Science Fiction

For regular readers here, this is no surprise. And I mean that I like science fiction in all its flavors: books, movies, TV, graphic novels. And it doesn't even have to be great science fiction. I've said this before, but I believe that even bad science fiction has merit. This is because even the worst science fiction is trying to make a point or send a message. It may fail miserably, but it's still trying.

Science fiction is allowed to address important social and political issues that traditional genres would not be able to without being considered preachy. Most recently we saw this with Battlestar Galactica, addressing torture, fundamentalism and terrorism, among other things.

My early beginnings in sci-fi were the novels of Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert. As I got a bit older, Larry Niven became probably my favorite hard sci-fi author. It might be cliche, but for a brainy and shy teenager, the escapism of science fiction was one of the few things that brought me solace and joy for those tough years.

In my adult years, I gravitated to the cyberpunk of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. But, I'm still discovering authors that are fantastic, like Greg Bear and Iain M. Banks, and fantasy authors like Philip Pullman and Neil Gaiman.

Obviously, as with all males of my age, one of the most formative experiences of my youth was seeing the original Star Wars movie. In those days, there was no Internet, no DVD's, and VCR's really weren't prevalent yet. Going to a movie theater and seeing something like Star Wars was an indescribable experience. It's so indelible that I remember that it was at a drive-in in Salem, Oregon and we watched it in the back of my folks Jeep.

It was through Star Wars, Blade Runner, the Alien movies and the books of my youth that my interest was cultivated. The 70's and 80's were, however, NOT the heyday of science fiction on television. You had the original Battlestar Galactica (which may prove wrong my theory of all science fiction having merit) and Space 1999, both unintentionally campy and embarrassing. I had no exposure to Doctor Who until I was in college. It's really just been the last 15 years or so that science fiction has come into it's own through things like the X-Files, the Stargate shows, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, the new Doctor Who, and many other shows. Something that was often an afterthought in programming now has a channel dedicated to it (SyFy) and just about every traditional network has at least one program that could be considered science fiction.

I just don't find issues of science, philosophy, consciousness, religion, the environment, war, etc. being addressed in such an entertaining manner as I do in science fiction. I don't read a lot of fiction, but when I do, about 75% of it is science fiction.

Top 5 favorite science fiction/fantasy books, no particular order: Dune, Lord of the Rings, Snow Crash, Neuromancer, Contact

Top 5 favorite science fiction movies, no particular order: 2001, Star Wars, Blade Runner, The Matrix, Children of Men

Next up, tomorrow:  Bluegrass music


wunelle said...

My earliest reading was with sci-fi, like you, the novels of Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven. And I'm also of just that age where the original Star Wars was a life-changing experience.

I've moved away from sci-fi lately, at least with books. I have an Iain Banks novel waiting on my iPad, but I've really not paid much attention now for 20 years. I'll have to look into your suggestions. (FWIW, I place most of your movies in my list of faves.)

CyberKitten said...

I could have written (or maybe I already have) an identical post - apart from a few minor details.

Somewhat like Wunelle I have been drifting away from SF in my reading ATM (after all I've been reading it for 37 years) and these days 90% of my book buying is actually historical novels.

SF still rocks my world though. I've yet to come across any other medium that is so versatile and entertaining.

dbackdad said...

I think I'm a bit like both of you where I'm not reading a lot of sci-fi right now, but I can't deny the influence it had on me. I'm probably not reading a lot right now because I've read most of the most important ones already. When someone recommends something to me (that means you CK ... :-)), I'll usually pick it up.

Wunelle -- Which Banks novel? He was an author I picked up because of CK and I really loved what I did read (The Algebraist).

CK -- I've been reading so much non-fiction lately (Jon Krakauer's book on Pat Tillman, and the new book on ESPN), but I am reading River of Gods by Ian McDonald. It's a very good book and my first introduction to his writing.

wunelle said...

I think it's Consider Phlebas. I had it in book form once but didn't start it, and I sold it with the rest of my books to convert everything over to electronic format. Then I found it offered for free and downloaded it. It's on my to-read list!

District 9 SoundTrack said...

I don't liked reading very much but love watching Sci-fi movie. Have you seen the movie "Inception" and "District 9" . Both are AWESOME movie. I bought DVD for both film last week :))