Monday, March 06, 2006

If you liked Star Wars, E.T., The Lord of the Rings, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, then you actually DO like SF/F!

I've gotten over the past few months both comments and emails with some variation of the the following statements:
"but SF/F is not my cup of tea"
"but I never read SF/F"
"I don't like S/F"


Obviously, for someone like me who is writing SF/F, that is not something I like to hear. But it's not just that I'd like others to enjoy this "genre of wonders." Those comments leave me with questions.

~Is it that they've read SF/F and haven't enjoyed one or two or more books in those genres?
~Or is it that they don't go near an SF/F book, assuming it's not their "cup of tea."


Let me ask this, then, to you who say SF/F is not for you: Did you like more than two or three of the following films?--


LORD OF THE RINGS
THE MATRIX
JURASSIC PARK
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
SIGNS
THE PRINCESS BRIDE
LADYHAWKE
STAR WARS
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
DRAGONHEART
E.T.
ALIEN or ALIENS
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
RETURN OF THE JEDI
THE LION KING
INDEPENDENCE DAY
FIELD OF DREAMS
THE TERMINATOR (or its sequels)
THE LITTLE MERMAID
BLADE RUNNER
THE SANTA CLAUSE (and sequel)
ELF
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
EXCALIBUR
WAR OF THE WORLDS
MERLIN
MEN IN BLACK
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
SPIDERMAN
STARGATE
VANILLA SKY
THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN
COCOON
THE ABYSS
WATERWORLD
ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW
SUPERMAN (and the sequels)
THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN
CONSTANTINE
THE VILLAGE
BEETLEJUICE
THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
PLEASANTVILLE
THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK
THE WIZARD OF OZ
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
WILLOW
STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE (or the sequels)
HOOK
PETER PAN
PLANET OF THE APES
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON
I, ROBOT
HARRY POTTER (any of the flms)
FAHRENHEIT 451
X-MEN
GATTACA
LEGEND
TIME BANDITS
SHREK
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
THE MUMMY
FORBIDDEN PLANET
INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
THE LATHE OF HEAVEN
THE INCREDIBLES
MINORITY REPORT
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
SOYLENT GREEN
THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA
CONAN THE BARBARIAN
CONTACT
THE OMEGA MAN
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
REVELATIONS
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER
THE WIZARD OF EARTHSEA
DUNE
CHILDREN OF DUNE


Or did you watch any of these TV shows with delight:

BEWITCHED
THE X-FILES
BABYLON FIVE
STAR TREK (any of its versions)
I DREAM OF JEANNIE
THE TWILIGHT ZONE
THE OUTER LIMITS
AMAZING STORIES
TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL
HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN
FARSCAPE
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
INVASION
THE 4400
TAKEN
FARSCAPE
XENA:PRINCESS WARRIOR
HERCULES


Can you see where I'm going?

If you didn't like half a dozen or more of those, didn't LOVE half a dozen or more of those...well, call me skeptical.

Many of the highest-grossing films of all time fall into the category of SF or F. That means many of the book-loving folk who say reading SF/F isn't for them are, likely, heartily enjoying WATCHING SF/F.


So, why are y'all not reading it? The same elements of wonder and "what if" of the films reside in the written stories. The same strong conflicts and developed protagonists come to life there. The same wonderful surprises of plot. The writing in SF/F is as good(sometimes much, much better) than in other genres. And the book covers rock! (I collect some vintage SF books just for the amazing artwork on the covers.)

Have you really tried SF/F? Or could it be that are you simply predisposed to think it's not a genre for you? Have you dismissed whole categories of stories out of hand rather unfairly? Only you can say.

Maybe you've tried it, tried it and found it wanting. Fine. That's fair. What didn't you like? I'm curious.

I know there is a certain mental challenge with science fiction that isn't present while reading a contemporary love story or a cozy mystery or a bildungsroman set in the 1980's or a Hollywood set roman a clef. I understand fully that some people are put off by anything that says "science," just as some fear math as much as I fear flying. Don't fear good stories because they include a scientific "what if" component.

Really, it's not rocket science. Well, okay, sometimes it actually is rocket science. Just not a college course in it. If you liked THE MATRIX or WAR OF THE WORLDS or THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN or SIGNS or X-FILES or THE TERMINATOR, then you can get into a science fiction story. Yes, really.

Fantasy, on the other hand, requires that you have retained a good measure of your childlike ability to gasp with delight over things that never were and cannot be but may bedazzle the mind. Remember how you felt as a kid being read to or reading about fairies and wizards and kings and princesses and quests and magic wands and castles with sleeping beauties and beasts who love beauties? Well, if you lost that ability to respond to tales of wonder, you may be a hard sell.

And yet...go back to my list of films. Did you like LoTR for its story, not just for the hunky-hunks? (AHHHH, Legolas! AHHHHHHH, Aragorn! AHHHHHHHH, Eomer!) Did you get swept away into the magical worlds of LADYHAWKE or THE PRINCESS BRIDE? Did you enjoy the magic of ELF or THE SANTA CLAUSE? Then you still have that ability to enjoy fantasy.

And if you did lose your ability to widen your eyes at wondrous worlds of the fantastical, you may yet recapture it with a great fantasy novel or anthology. See my dazzling optimism?

So, why do you not read SF/F?

Just wondering...

8 comments:

Camy Tang said...

I LOVE SCI-FI AND FANTASY!

You're very forceful today, Mirster.

Camy

Scott M. Sandridge said...

Very well thought out entry.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Okay...I give...I LOVE SCIFI!!! I just don't like to READ it! LOL

Mirtika said...

Yeah, but why, Bonnie?:)What SF/F novels did you read and why didn't they work for you if the films do?
Mir

Synner said...

I'll admit that I'm a closet SF/F freak. My favorite TV shows include a strong suspension of disbelief. I mean, time-travelling (Quantum Leap), aliens (Roswell and The X Files), and whatever is really going on with Lost. I used to devour fantasy books in high school and college (Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis especially). And I'm starting to read some of Mercedes Lackey (her "Fairy Godmother" being such an enjoyable read).

I guess my problem is I have a lot of friends recommending authors from other genres, but not SF/F.

So, that being the case, who would you recommend, Mir? I'm more than happy to read some new authors.

UKSteve said...

Preach it sister! :)

A well timed post, which I may have to borrow for my new blog about Christian science fiction. It hasn't really started yet, but you're welcome to chip in!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Because the reading makes me spend too much time disseminating the vision that they are putting forth.

Example: the book Dune...I had to read it like four times before I caught everything, then I used the dictionary at the back copiously to understand what was going on...Way too much of my life passed away trying to understand the book....But the movie...got it the first time! Done, on to the next one!...LOL

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I just paid attention to your lists...LOL...I've seen absolutely every one of those films and TV series...right now..Stargate, Stargate Atlantis and Battle Star Gallactica are my friday night favs...live on the scifi channel...LOL