Booking Through Thursday: Fantasy and Sci-Fi

June 18, 2009 at 11:55 am | Posted in Book Blather | 2 Comments

Here is my response to this week’s Booking Through Thursday:

One of my favorite sci-fi authors (Sharon Lee) has declared June 23rd Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Day.  As she puts it:

So! In my Official Capacity as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I hereby proclaim June 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day! A day of celebration and wonder! A day for all of us readers of science fiction and fantasy to reach out and say thank you to our favorite writers. A day, perhaps, to blog about our favorite sf/f writers. A day to reflect upon how written science fiction and fantasy has changed your life.

So … what might you do on the 23rd to celebrate? Do you even read fantasy/sci-fi? Why? Why not?

I read my first science fiction novel at age 9.  My grandpa sent me two Robert Heinlein novels, Between Planets and Space Cadet.  I think I must have read each of them four times.  My dad commented that he’d been given the same books at the same age, and he called them “space operas.”  It was a family affair, and I read mostly sci fi and fantasy (including the copy of The Hobbit that I found under a bush) until about age 12.

At that point, I learned about genre fiction.  I took the PSAT in 6th grade, and received in the mail a list of Books That Must Be Read from Johns Hopkins University.  Suddenly the sci fi and fantasy I had been having so much fun with started to look just like the Harlequin romance novels my mom read by the sackload.  I made a conscious decision to broaden my reading, and developed a really sophomoric fixation on reading “the right books.”  Of course I continued to read the same stuff I had been reading; I just interspersed it with heavier things.

What I liked about sci fi and fantasy was that their worlds always seemed so logical.  The worlds I visited reflected my world, only as it should be, or in a darker light that revealed its little problems.  I went through a brief period of infatuation with unicorns and other fantasy creatures, but the main interest for me was always the “speculative fiction” aspect.  I enjoyed the thought experiments.

Now I might read a sci fi or fantasy novel once every few months; I get my “thought experiments” from non-fiction.  My tastes have changed and it’s rare for me to find anything that qualifies as genre fiction very satisfying.  It’s okay, though, because now I have a teenage stepdaughter who likes the same sort of stuff, and I can have fun picking things out for her to read.

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