Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It's Hard Being A SF Fan

Over the last few weeks we’ve had an explosion of Science Fiction on television. Never has the schedules creaked with the weight of so much programming pitched into my favourite genre. We’ve got the excellent Life On Mars, the return of the amazing Battlestar Galactica and Smallville. There’s the okish Invasion and The Eleventh Hour (which ITV insist is not SF – despite a loads of genre concepts.) Finally there’s the awful Hyperdrive. Never has a show with so much promise failed so spectacularly to be funny.

This SF televisual attack is accompanied by the reviews. Sadly, as ever it has provided the critics chance to trot out all those over used clichés about SF fans. Caitlin Moran attacked Red Dwarf fans as the geeky I.T. type while A.A. Gill had a slightly more vicious swipe:

"The good thing about sci-fi, is that it attracts unarguably the least discriminating, the most tunnel-visioned yet loyal audience of any oeuvre in any medium... People who read sci-fi read little else. Star Wars fans are a weird closed society, bearable only to each other."

So what if I read little else? I like what I like. I've read and enjoyed Dickens, I've read Of Mice & Men and Pride & Prejudice but none of it grabs me like SF does.

And what of the television? Just because I don't rot my brain in front of utter dross like Eastenders or the latest football match as the masses do - i.e. the 'norm' and 'socially acceptable' I'm deemed as a deviant.

How can Star Wars be a closed society? It's one of the biggest cultural phenomenon’s of the 20th century - completely redefining cinema for a whole generation.

In fact he seems to ignore the fact that apart from Sudoku and the Rubix Cube many of the big cultural influences over the last fifty years have been SF based. We've had the X-Files, Star Wars and Star Trek. All adding buzzwords and phrases to the lexicon. Dr Who has forever changed the way a nation feels about 1950's Police Boxes and pepper pots. We've had a boy wizard and a quest for a ring. Every summer Channel 4 grabs viewers with Big Brother - a concept straight from a 1948 SF novel. Also every summer cinemas are overrun with the blockbusters – many being SF. (In fact out of the top 20 highest grossing movies of all time 16 are science fiction.)

Going back to his quote about SF fans reading little else. Why would we need to? It’s such an open genre. It’s not restricted to any setting or era. It can be a Western, a romance or a Thriller. It has everything. Also read other literature you’ll normally find the story to be enclosed. A neat little package centred around one or two characters in a few locations. Once you’ve finished it’s normally all wrapped up with nothing left to chew over.

SF grabs the reader. It makes you question life and existence. The plots aren’t normally about whether Miss Elaine will get her wicked but blushing way with Mr Larcy and little else. Instead they challenge religion, death, & society. Sometimes you can leave a SF book with unanswered questions but still find it rewarding.

I know exactly which tunnel A.A. Gill is getting his vision from – perhaps he should pull his head out of it.

1 comment:

dazzle_v2003 said...

A very good argument!!!!!
Leave Eastenders out of it though. It is not utter dross.