Like probably everyone else reading Amazing Stories, I love science fiction. I’m a fan, maybe even a Fan, but we all know not all science fiction is created equal and not everyone shares the same tastes.
Ever notice how such an obvious nuance like this is not always appreciated by friends or family who don’t share our love? They expect that you watch every TV show with science fiction elements and see every Star Trek movie on opening night. They expect if they give you a gift that smacks of science fiction, you’ll love it, even if it’s cheap, derivative crap. Oh, I try to tell them, but they never seem to listen carefully.
I once had a girlfriend who was cross-stitching me a dragon. When her friends asked her about the project, she’d explain to them that it was a gift for me because I “liked sci-fi.” Even though she was lucky I also like fantasy and dragons in addition to science fiction, in hindsight it was obvious that the relationship was doomed to failure.
Sometimes it’s easy to fall into society’s view of ourselves, even though we should know ourselves better. Currently sitting on my DVR are a half dozen science fiction movies that I’ve saved for months, intending to watch, pretty much only because they’re science fiction. I feel obligated in some way to give them a chance, even though the reviews, actor, directors, and plot synopses have not quite managed to ignite my enthusiasm. There’s the Total Recall remake, and Lockout, sitting there unwatched month after month.
At the box office, I skipped Elysium this year. And After Earth. And The Host. Life is too short, and there are a lot of great movies out there. I’m not going to see the Robocop remake either, unless it gets great reviews (which I highly doubt!).
I’ll give the new Star Wars movies a chance, I guess, although what possessed me to see Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith after seeing The Phantom Menace I find hard to pin down. A sense of completeness? Plain old hope? Even though it’s clear that hope will not be rekindled until Episode IV?
And every year there are new TV shows. A few are great, most are mediocre at best, pandering to a broad, general audience. A cop with a partner who is an android? Really? Maybe it’s better than I think, but no thanks… I don’t really need to watch a show just because it takes place in the future or has androids (or robots!). I’ve had my fill of police procedurals and buddy cop shows — I like my science fiction fresher, usually. (If I’m wrong, let me know.)
I guess I’m writing this as an affirmation that it’s okay to like what I like, dislike what I dislike, and not let anyone, including myself, make me feel obligated to spend my time in ways I’d prefer not to.
I know at least one big name fantasy writer who never read Lord of the Rings, and who confessed to me that they never intend to. Scandalous, no?
No, it isn’t. We’re all individuals, not labels.
Sports fans don’t have to love every sport or watch every big game, let alone every little one. Neither do science fiction fans have to watch or read all the science fiction out there indiscriminately.
Let me finish with a cautionary tale that should help give you strength next Christmas or on your next birthday when you get a present that fits your label of science fiction fan, but you really don’t care for. I had some friends whose house was filled with pigs. Pig statues, pig planters, pig cups, pig everything. I asked them, in that obvious American way, “Oh, I guess you like pigs.” They told me that they didn’t! Someone had given them a pig statue once as a gift and they’d been polite about accepting it. Other people saw the gift, assumed they love all things pigs, and from then on an ever increasing fraction of their gifts were pig gifts. They hadn’t had the heart to set the story straight and it had become too late. They now lived in a sty.
So, be true to yourself and your tastes, be a discriminating fan, and let everyone know it!
It may not be pigs you end up living with, or even something as nice as dragons, but orcs. Like Battlestar Galactica? Here’s the entire original series on DVD! Like outer space? Here’s the original Flash Gordon serials from the 1930s! Like fantasy? Here’s a Twilight coloring book!