I’ve loved science fiction forever.
My father took me to see 2001: A Space Odyssey in its original run in cinema-scope, the weird widescreen experiment that failed before we had IMAX. Only a handful of films were made in this format; only a handful of theaters ever installed the projection equipment.
I was lucky enough to have Clarke and Kubrick’s vision blasted into my frontal lobes before the age of ten. My brother, a year and a half younger, fell asleep, but I was mesmerized. I had no clear idea of what I’d seen or what it meant, exactly, but I knew something; whatever it was, I was a part of it. Whoever had made it, I was his audience.
My father let the six-year-old me stay up late to watch the original run of Star Trek, which aired at 9:00pm. It was important. I remember that, and the discussions with my father about various SF classics, too.
Like many of you, I found genre fiction became a central organizing principle in my life: a kind of religion, a way of looking at the world, at the future, and at my own place in both. Robert Heinlein crept in very early and set up shop, becoming the cranky libertarian contrarian lodged irremovable inside my liberal progressive heart. I read backwards into the Golden age, up and into the New Wave, while simultaneously consuming the staples of the seventies: Niven and Pournelle, Steven King, Piers Anthony, John Varley and everything in between. I read Ballard and Budrys and that dense slippery stuff that academia has deemed to have Literary Merit: Vonnegut and the freshly anointed Phillip K. Dick.
And as I began to write myself, I tried to figure out where I fit in. What stories was I meant to write? I’m still working that out, 20 years in. And having a wonderfully strange time doing it.
It’s a big genre, a big tent, with a lot of ideas, a lot of room, a lot of politics, a lot of strange and wonderfully twisted people. I’m one of them; a small fish, to be sure, at the edge of things. But I’m proud to be here, proud to be part of this genre, this tradition, this body of work. We explore the present by imagining the future; we provide insight into our time that cannot be had in any other way.
Where do we think we’re going? As a country? As a people? As a species? As a planet?
Who am I? One of the usual suspects: a white-male-middle-aged-urban-privileged dude with some tech industry background…
But I’ve been blessed with family and friends who are wild, different. And I’ve learned a lot from their experiences. I’ve had great friends in the genre; great people who have pushed and prodded and supported me and my explorations. I write with them, for them, always in mind. They are my people. Genre fiction is my Book.
And now, again, I’m writing in that Book. I’m so happy to find it in myself again. I hope you get something out of it.