Monday, 3 January 2011

The Sci Fi experience

As a teen (1960s) I was a rare specimen indeed. Why? Well, I was a girl who read science fiction. I wasn't aware of being different until my English teacher informed the whole class of the fact. I'd written a sci fi imaginative story and Mr. Owen was tickled pink, read it out and told everyone he'd never come across a girl who read - and wrote - science fiction before. Suddenly, from being a quiet 'swotty' girl who wasn't much noticed I became a girl the English teachers took an interest in. It was *extremely* weird.

As I devoured H.G. Wells and then moved on to any modern sci fi author I could find in the library, usually in a yellow 'Gollanz' cover, the teachers became more fascinated in my book reviews and my mother and grandmother started to worry. I always had my nose in a book apparently, shouldn't I be going to dances and chasing boys? Phttt! No thanks... The books were *much* more interesting! (I did eventually find myself a boyfriend... aged 19, in my first job in a bank, he was a sci fi reader too funnily enough and yes, gentle reader, I married him. I would have been stupid not to as he too was a rare specimen. Mum stopped worrying then. Well I think she did...) And then, aged around 16, Star Trek happened. I think I died and went to heaven when I set eyes on Mr. Spock... my science fiction future was assured and I remain an avid Trek fan to this day: series, movies, the whole bangshoot.

My fascination with the stars and other planets never went away. I'm not sure why, maybe sci fi fans are born... at age 4 I remember doing one of my brother's jigsaw puzzles - a moon scene with men walking around in space suits. He wasn't remotely interested but the subject absolutely rivetted me and my first ever picture I drew at school... aliens. I'm convinced I must have been born that way.

Now, all that rambling (sorry) is to admit that I am a lapsed sci fi fan. I really do not read enough of it these days and it's a sad thing. So what I'm going to do to remedy that is to take part in Carl's Sci Fi experience this year.

The purpose of The Sci Fi Experience is two-fold:

1. To spend the winter months (my favorite time of year to read science fiction) sharing my love of science fiction with others who love the genre as well.

2. To gently encourage those who have either never read science fiction, only rarely read science fiction, or have read science fiction and had a bad experience to give it a chance.

Unlike the challenges I host other times during the year, there are no specific number of books to shoot for. This is simply an opportunity to get together as a community and share a love of science fiction…and to hopefully spark a love of science fiction in those who have yet to be bit by the sci fi love bug!

I did actually have a go last year but only read one book (Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg, it was excellent) which is pathetic and this year I am hoping to read more. I have loads on my tbr pile but these three particularly appeal:

The Dispossessed - Ursula K, Le Guin
City of Pearl - Karen Traviss
The Warrior Apprentice - Lois McMaster Bujold

Honestly... if I read those three I would be very happy bunny indeed! Watch this space (groan - sorry).


DesLily said...

you married your first boyfriend? oh my! you are as "worldly" as I was! hahahahaha.. love it!

GeraniumCat said...

Your story made me smile, as I was another oddity. I was lucky, though, that my dad read scifi (and crime) and sent me to the library to choose books for him, so I read them all too. I don't think I ever wrote any scifi, but did write fantasy and ghost stories, and there was one I recall that might have been classed as "speculative"!

Anonymous said...

I think maybe we should start a club, I also read scifi as a kid and loved it. I also married a science fiction loving guy. I know there are girls out there who like science fiction but they do seem to be in the minority, so still something of a rarity. I also must admit to having raised a girl who appreciates science fiction. Enjoy the scifi reading and I will be reading your posts with great interest.

Cath said...

Morning Pat! Yep, I married my first boyfriend. I doubt many women do that these days.

GeraniumCat: It's nice to know there were others out there like me but how sad that we all felt a bit isolated. Just being an actual 'reader' in my class was looked upon as weird enough, let alone a reader of so called 'boy's books'!

Book pusher: I too raised girls who loved science fiction. One still reads it (and fantasy), the other not so much as her life is really busy (but a still huge Terry Pratchett fan.) I always say I raised my girls on the ethics of Star Trek. LOL!

Have just started the first sci fi book - The City of Pearl by Ksren Traviss and so far it's good.

Biblibio said...

A wonderful story about your sci-fi experience. Though I follow by several decades, live in a rather different world (as a result) and under rather different circumstances, I know what you mean about a lot of your points. A lovely post.

I wonder how it must be to be a sci-fi reader today, when women are a lot more accepted in the genre than they were. I even notice that the three books you mention wanting to read are by female authors - intentional, or a pleasant side-effect of more women in the genre?

Cath said...

Bibliobio: Oddly, I didn't consciously realise that all my books were by female authors. That probably illustrates how far we've come in that it's now so normal for women to write sci fi that it's not worth noting. Back when I started to read it I don't think there were many female authors - although Kate Wilhelm and Vonda McIntyre spring to mind and I'm also not sure how long Ursula le Guin has been writing. (Anne McCaffrey was actually my first I think.) But availability was a problem where I lived (Cornwall). Our library didn't restock very often and it wasn't until I was in my late teens with my own money that I could buy books and then the local bookshop... you've guessed... only stocked a little sci fi and those, yep, were only by *men*. (A.E. Van Vogt and Clifford Simak were favourites.) And now... well I actually seem to prefer the sci fi books written by women... Sheri Tepper, Ursula le Guin and so on, a complete about turn. Interesting subject.