Since I’m restarting my blog, I thought I’d kick it off with a post I wrote a long time ago, but never ended up posting.
I’m a firm believer that science fiction (and by extension, fantasy, steampunk and most any other speculative fiction fandom out there) is an important part of our modern culture.
There are two main reasons for this. First is the economic impact. How much scratch do we spend on our fandom junk? Okay, I live in Phoenix, so I’ll use Phoenix Comicon as an example. In 2013, the out-of-town visitors for Phoenix Comicon had an economic impact of $5.2 million. And that’s JUST the out-of-towners. I know I spent a pretty penny. Plenty of other locals did too. But even so, $5.2 million is pretty measly compared to the grander scheme of our economy.
Fine, let’s look at a better example. How about Indianapolis’s GenCon. That particular convention is estimated as being a $50 million event. Much bigger than Phoenix. And there are dozens upon dozens of these. And that’s not even taking into account the hyper-massive entertainment franchises like Marvel, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.
We’re talking money. Lots of it.
Surely, though, money is not the only reason, right? True enough. The second reason is because of the science it influences. Okay, so Fantasy, not so much on this one. I mean, it would be great if it did. Can you imagine a group of scientists from MIT creating an actual Bag of Holding?
I’m sure the military would love to get their hands on some mithril armor. Of course, on the more terrifying side … do we really want a politician getting his hands on the process for making The One Ring. Though, for all we know, Sauron does exist, just in the guise of a politician.
Anyway, science fiction influences science fact all the time. From the U.S. space shuttle Enterprise being named after Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise, to the fear of artificial intelligence like in Terminator or I Robot, the fandom impacts reality and we often don’t even realize it.
But I think there’s an even bigger reason. A reason, that applies equally for science fiction and fantasy. And it’s a HUGE reason.
Are you ready for it? You sure? It’s a mind blower…
Because I effing want it. Like many of you, I love my fandoms. Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar, Dr. Who (Classic and New), Fringe, Marvel, DC, Tolkein, Terry Brooks, Neil Gaiman, Raymond Feist, Robert Jordan, Cowboy Bebop, Firefly, V, War of the Worlds (TV Show, Movies and radio drama), Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon (movie and yes, I even liked the shortlived Scifi Channel show), Twighlight Zone, Captain Harlock, The Incredibles, Aeon Flux, Appleseed, Ghost in the Shell, Gundam, Babylon 5 and, yes, even Andromeda… And so much more.
I love my fandoms. They make me squee, they make me cry, they get me excited and make me plead for more.
But, why do I love them so much? Not because I find this life too boring, too pedestrian or too mundane. No. These are stories about characters who are like us. They have emotions and feelings and problems and challenges.
No, you know what? They’re not just characters. They are people. Sure, they may not have physical bodies in the real world, but they have every other aspect that makes them each a person. Hell, as a writer, I stake my life on the theory that they are people, actual and whole (Sorry, couldn’t resist the Firefly reference).
Seriously, the nuts and bolts of it is that these stories give us hope. They show us tremendous evil and horror, then they show us what courage looks like. They show us that we have to overcome that darkness.
And then sometimes, our arguments and daily troubles seem tiny and petty.
Science fiction and fantasy are not really just whims and flights of fancy. They are our dreams and our inspirations. They are the things we use to move ourselves to become better people. And, ultimately, they are reflections of ourselves.