This past week was National Science Fiction day and, I don't know about you, but my social media feeds were flooded with the passionate fandoms of Star Trek, The Expanse, Dr. Who, Babylon 5, Star Wars, and countless other followers loyal to their books, movies, television series, and multi-medium franchises.
We NERDS proudly claim that title and attach it to everything from cosplay to movie marathons, to gaming groups. BUT WHY? Why does the genre of science fiction extend across genders and generations, income levels and life philosophies, race and political affiliations? For me, the answer lies within the question. We have historically found countless ways to separate ourselves and, in the world of fiction, we have something that unites.
I'm not trashing non-fiction. I spent most of my career creating it as the author and biographer for those writing books on leadership, ministry, self-improvement, sports, niche business topics, and various other playbooks for life. In 2019, some sixtyish publications later, I reached peak burnout and took a break from writing altogether. I tried over the year that followed (during which everybody and their grandmother wrote a book to get through the pandemic) to remember what drew me to books back when I first started writing.
I decided to start streaming a new-to-me science fiction series because I tend to enjoy the genre and I wanted to connect with a story. Honestly it was escapism. I found The Expanse (and am a little embarrassed that I didn't know from the start that it began as a book series). I was three seasons in (fully binge-worthy) before I learned that they were books first. It's so not my style to start with the visual and later go to the books, but that's how I found James S.A. Corey's novels.
James S.A. Corey, by the way, is actually the two writers Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham writing under a single joint pen name and Leviathan Falls, the 9th and final in The Expanse series, was released in November of last year. They began the series as a video game backstory and discovered that they had more there than just a cut scene . . . A LOT MORE! To say I fell in love with the books (and the screen adaptation, too) would be an understatement. I recommended the books to anyone I could! They relit the spark of creativity that had dimmed in the overwhelming and sometimes traumatizing world of non-fiction. I knew how I was getting back into writing. It would be science fiction, though I didn't yet know the plot of my story.
I finally had a friend pick up the series I'd been passionately recommending and, just a little ways into the first book, he told me:
"THANK YOU for recommending these books! I can picture it! I can't remember the last time I was able to read and see the movie in my mind."
That was it! I remembered wanting to be a storyteller and write the movies in people's minds. And, in the middle of our chaotic world, I wanted those movies to unite. With my passion for words reignited, I began listening to Eric Molinsky's Imaginary Worlds Podcast and I allowed my imagination to awaken. I didn't even realize it had been sleeping until it was thriving once more. Following episodes of his podcast, I would jot down ideas. Any ideas and many ideas. Those ideas became full concepts. I researched those concepts and they became worlds. I dreamed about those worlds and imagined the people living in them. My story came to life.
That friend . . . the one who had the movie in his mind . . . he became one of my Beta Readers for At Fault, the science fiction book that releases April 14, 2022 - the longest I've ever gone between books, but grace. This one had a whole birthing process. It's my hope that a few of you see the movies in your minds and that all who read it feel united by what we have in common rather than separated by what we don't. Mark your calendars to get At Fault, the first in a five-book series, this spring!
For some, science-fiction, or any genre fiction, may seem frivolous. But for me, it gave me imagination and creativity again after a career in the written word had drained much of both. It gave me hope for unity in the midst of a global season of division. Why do you love sci-fi?
If you didn't have a chance to stitch our Science-Fiction Favorites TikToks shared last week for #nationalsciencefictionday, I'd still love to hear about your favorite books, television series, and movies!
Or comment here. We love to hear from you!
As always, be gloriously human! ~JS