Examining Science Fiction Across the Genres

Asimov's MysteriesWhen I was six years old I met my first alien. He hailed from a planet called Krypton but looked like you and me. Growing up, every fall meant I would come down with bronchitis and wind up in bed for a while. That pivotal year, I was given an issue of Superman and was hooked. A few years later, my fascination with the four-color hero expanded to all manner of super-heroes which was a short leap to television, movies, and finally, prose.

I still recall being at Mid-Island Plaza with my dad, going into the Cherry Hill Bookstore and have him take me to the science fiction section. He scanned the shelves and plucked a copy of Asimov’s Mysteries for reasons lost to time. It was my first adult science fiction book – and I still have it.

So, for the last 50 years or so, I’ve been engrossed with all manner of science fiction. That means I’ve consumed a tremendous amount of fare. Truth be told, nowhere near enough of the classic or modern day prose, but I remain a fan. It also means it takes a lot to enthrall me and a lot less to annoy me.

There were moments of sheet bliss such as the first time I watched Star Wars in a theater, feeling like a kid once more. George Lucas successfully nailed the gosh wow feel of the old movie serials I grew up watching in reruns on weekend television.

tumblr_lsb43pdld41qgxy6bo1_500I still recall the excitement my college friends and I felt when Battlestar Galactica was going to debut on a Sunday evening. We all gathered at Ricky’s off-campus house and had dinner, settling onto the couch to watch. We were uniformly appalled at how shoddy it felt with a tired script and weak actor (Lorne Greene notwithstanding). Thankfully the suck was interrupted by the news that Carter brokered a deal with Israel and Egypt. A short while later, I was even angrier at the travesty that was NBC’s updating of Buck Rogers, ignoring the source material.

Successful science fiction in the comics was easily done as witnessed by EC’s wonderful works, which I discovered in paperback form in the 1970s. Mike Friedrich’s Star*Reach also showed how it was done during that same decade so I kept wondering why television kept getting it wrong (a decade later they began figuring it out).

I have a stack of science fiction books on my TBR shelf, some dating back a decade or more, some from last year. Ask me the last great one I read, the title that immediately pops up is Connie Willis’ The Domesday Book, which I read only a year or two back. There’s still a sense of wonder in a tale well told. Being invited into someone else’s imagination is a nice vacation from my reality and I marvel at where their ideas come from.

May I never lose that interest in what comes next.

One thought on “Examining Science Fiction Across the Genres”

  1. I write sci-fi and fantasy and I’m learning the market for it is as tight as a buzzard’s ass in a power dive. Its seems to me zombies have taken over the ideas and market that sci-fi once dominated. I still love old fashion sci-fi as you do but it’s getting very hard to find sci-fi in book stores and even harder to get mine published. I do Kurt Vonnegut- like social satire along with outer forms: will sci-fi ever make a popularity come-back or I’m I just pissing down a gravity well?

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