I'm still making my way through the books, but the last episode of the streaming series "The Expanse," came to an end this past weekend. Sigh....
I've never been shy about expressing my admiration for the authorship of this incredibly complex science fiction series that was somehow both uniquely alien and relatably human at the same time. By the way, it bugs me that "relatably" is not actually a word. I don't care. I'm going to use it anyway.
This is basically part 2 to my "Why Sci-Fi" blog!
I'm so grateful that I get to continue through The Expanse books. Just six seasons of the streaming series, but nine epic novels (and a few hidden gems for the die hard fans) with immense depth from James S.A. Corey, the pen name for the two authors, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who co-created the Hugo-award-winning series.
Genre fiction or speculative fiction, if you prefer, gets such a bad rep in the world of literature and I just don't get it. Last year, in the midst of countless podcast binges, I happened across an episode of Caroline Donahue's (https://twitter.com/carodonahue) Secret Library Podcast. In it, she interviewed Mary Robinette Kowal, a Hugo-award-winning science fiction author.
One of the things that Kowal said which really hit home for me was that (....science fiction is when the world our characters are in is so extraordinary that the characters themselves get to act in a very human way. The contrast is that in adult fiction or literary fiction, very normal things are typically happening in the world. Therefore, it is the characters who are required to act in extraordinary ways....) I'm significantly paraphrasing, here, but you get the idea. Your most relatable humans actually come from the fictional and fantastical worlds of science fiction, fantasy, and occasionally an action crossover.
If you start at the 19:00 mark, you can hear the 8 minute exchange about how science fiction is (often falsely) categorized. https://www.secretlibrarypodcast.com/episodes/mary-robinette-kowal
I'm going to date myself a bit, here, but the progression of books I read as a child, went something like this:
Laura Ingalls Wilder
"The Classics" (Dickens, Hawthorne, Milton, Hugo, Orwell, Vonnegut)
When I think about the likes of Ramona Quimby, Laura Ingalls, and Anne of Green Gables, it's clear I was interested in strong females with adventurous spirits and active imaginations. Then, I was thrown into the dry and dark worlds of Great Expectations, 1984, and The Scarlet Letter, to name a few. I'm hoping some of my generation got to at least enjoy Ray Bradbury and Jules Verne. From my perspective, adult books became less engaging for me. I was told, through my assigned literature, that I was too old for the creativity present in the reads from my youth. What a disservice to our young readers!
The classics aren't going anywhere, but I for one am grateful that my own children were able to grow up with Rowling (before all the controversy!), Collins, and Roth. I'm not calling all of those equal, mind you, but they were each effective in teaching my children that the imagination is not something we should leave behind in elementary school.
I'm almost embarrassed to say it took more than twenty years for me to get back into fiction. I had tried literary fiction and was so often turned off by the melodramatic characters that I came to believe I didn't even like "made up stories" anymore. Then, I had a whole career in the development of nonfiction and while I'm happy with the many works I was lucky to experience in some way, I was not excited about picking up a nonfiction book for entertainment after working 80-hour weeks to create them.
So - THANK YOU, Daniel and Ty, for bringing me back to the joy of reading books.
I'll be sad when I finish the books. Every time I turn one of their pages, I know it's the last first time I will read those words, but other books will come. Some of them, I'm even writing. I hope you'll join me in digging into the relatable human stories found in science fiction.
Be gloriously human,
P.S. Easter egg for you if you listen to the recommended podcast . . . all my #trekkies, be sure to check out the cool bit of trivia from the 15:30 to the 17:00 mark!