I started writing these posts with the intent of talking about how my itinerary as a reader of Science Fiction was unique, but the last posts became detours, as I got distracted from my original goal and talked about writing instead of reading. But the fact is that I would not be able to summarize my reads in science fiction in the last 15 years or identify in them a pattern that took me to where I am right now as my previous reads did.
My original point stands, and I can now give it some depth by including my main motivation in writing this series of posts: in the last years when I moved to the US, and particularly last year, I had the chance to meet Science Fiction aficionados. The men and women who once were kids that had good access to good libraries and book shops and didn’t have a language obstacle The people who once were teens who connected to other teens with a similar mindset and an appetite for science fiction, and had important forums to gather, exchange, exist, such as conventions.
Last year I attended the Nebula convention in LA and Worldcon in Dublin (the last only possible thanks to a grant that funded by flight). I struggled in both events to connect with people and make the most for it. In my life I had a weird alternation of moments of popularity (middle school, college) and of social retraction (high school, professional settings). My social retraction trend has been lasting for several years now, and the fact that I have a thick accent, that I’m an immigrant, doesn’t help. But mostly, I feel that my experience has been different. You have the old school of science fiction readers who are very brash about how the “new generation” doesn’t read Asimov, Heinlein, Vance etcetera. And then you have the “new generation” that is all about authors that have been publishing in the last 10 years, while my reads tended to focus either on the ones I perceive as being in between (Le Guin, Bradbury, Adams, etcetera), or the ones before Science Fiction was a genre. Not that I haven’t read novels from the writers of the so-called golden age of science fiction, but I know who my influences are. I still believe, for example, that is more pertinent to read L’Isle-Adam than Vonnegut if you want to write humorous science fiction.
Am I really part of a community if I don’t partake on what is mainstream for them? I was talking to a recent acquaintance, the brilliant Jordan Chase-Young, about how a recent story of mine where I frame my premise intellectually before moving on to the narrative (like Douglas Adams used to do sometimes when starting a new chapter) was perceived as meandering and unfocused by some readers who just wanted the action to happen ASAP.
I got to where I am now – releasing my debut novel and my first pro-market short story -, by being different, and that difference was a product of my sui generis process of becoming a science fiction enthusiast. I’m not sure where I’m headed to. Terminal 3 may flop and I might never sell a short story again, what probably will steer me to return to my origins, where science fiction was a solitary hobby. And I think I will be okay if that happens. There are worse ways to crash and burn.