Monday, May 31, 2010

Waxing philosophical on science fiction...and sushi

It all happened at a hibachi house down the street.  The diners at my table included my wife and my mother-in-law.  As our sushi appetizer arrived and we watched the chef prepare to do the usual line-up of tricks, my wife and I were in the midst of bemoaning the process of getting older.  I stated that this year's birthday was going to be an especially miserable one for me as it marks yet another turning point.  I mean, I never celebrate my birthday but this year I'm planning to travel to a foreign country, check into a hotel, hide under the bed, and pretend it isn't happening.
In an attempt to ameliorate our condition, my mother-in-law jumped in.  She said that neither my wife nor I look our age and that we have hobbies and interests that keep us young.  
"Jon, you're into science fiction, so that helps," she said.
It didn't make much sense to me at the time, but now I see what she was trying to say.  
I think. 
The consumption of science fiction may indeed have helped in my battle against age.  It is a genre that is always asking the question, "what's next?"  In turn, this tends to establish a heuristic method within the mind, an outlook that is accepting of new principles such as changes and advancements in technology.  There is a saying that any technology around at the time of our birth is commonplace.  Any technology that comes along before we turn 30 is new and exciting.  Any technology that arrives after that is to be treated with fear and distrust.  I need only look at a certain 19th Century Luddite I know to see this in action as he rants and rails like an Old Testament prophet against the "evils" of Twitter and social networking, calling for people to "get together" under a tree or something and play Eric Clapton songs on an acoustic guitar.  I do not share such cynicism.  
Perhaps that is another fundamental effect of the consumption of science fiction: optimism.  More things, such as interplanetary space travel, seem possible to fans of the genre than to those outside of it.  The universe is an amazing, exciting place and contains far more than commutes to a mundane job, TV shows, and smoked bbq.  Anything can and *does* happen in it.  Those with open minds and spirits know this.  We're just waiting for everyone else to catch up.   
Speaking of optimism, science fiction may also be the most philosophically optimistic genre in all of literature.  A bold statement to be sure, so why did I make it?  Well, a great deal of science fiction presupposes a future.  In a few cases it may be a bleak one and it may very well suck to be alive in them, but there is a future.  Life has gone on.  We did not destroy ourselves entirely, despite how things might be looking based on current events.  That could be the most pollyanna viewpoint of all.

Those were some tuna rolls!

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  1. If you enjoy the SF genre, what draws you to it?

  2. I'm with Patrick Stewart on this's Shakespearean. Themes tend to be drawn very large, epic in fact, the stakes are high, sometimes even our very humanity. The same reasons I am drawn to opera (remember my treatment of the Ring Cycle in college?)

    I'm actually thinking about space operas now.

    Oh, and the way I felt when I got up this morning, it made me think my back was actually put together with steampunk technology.

  3. I think you're spot on, Bernard. I've become drawn to opera myself in recent years. For one thing it usually involves beautiful music, for another it explores the areas of the human condition that you just mentioned. And yes I do remember your Ring radio opera...quite fondly as a matter of fact. :) Any epic that includes Axl Rose and Bill Cartwright is ok by me. :)

  4. What do I like about Sci Fi? Guns. Definitely the cool guns.

  5. Here is some real science fiction...

    The frequency of EARTHQUAKES around the world is intensifying, despite the disclaimers of those who suggest that none of these events are even connected. They continually point to the fact that, while there may be a very slight increase in seismic activity, it’s really not out of the ordinary … EXCEPT FOR THE FACT, they say, … that they seem to be striking heavily populated areas now. THIS IS OUT OF THE ORDINARY! … and this is intentionally conjured up by the very Thought Process that conjured up the experts who readily state that these are not abnormal. The experts, living and functioning deep within the Trance State, can say nothing contrary to what the Trance State, (which is the Thought Process), dictates.

    One extreme increase in seismic activity is in CALIFORNIA, which has experienced over 70 – 4.0 mag. or greater earthquakes already, in 2010, MORE THAN DOUBLE the usual frequency. Again, THIS IS OUT OF THE ORDINARY!

    Without understanding how and why this whole 3D illusion exists, anything and everything the experts tell us, is nonsense.



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