"You Write Science Fiction? Oh, That's... Nice."

— July 28, 2010 (18 comments)
I'm always hesitant to tell people that I write. "Oh, cool! Like what?" they say.

I try to look them in the eye and smile, as if I'm not ashamed of what I'm going to say next. "Science fiction and fantasy. That kind of stuff."

The conversation then diverges to one of two places. On most people, you can see their face drop as they struggle to remember any SF/F they read in the last 10-50 years. They can't think of anything, but they don't want to offend me so they default to the polite, "Oh. That's nice."

Ah, but the OTHER reaction! The folks who light up and say, "Really? Like what?" And I get to tell them about my story and they actually think it's cool. Or they ask where my inspiration comes from, and we get to talk about things like Firefly and anime. Or they tell me about all their favorite SF/F books, and I get to tell them about mine.

It's worth the risk to find these people. It's worth having some folks glaze over my shelves of Card, Gaiman, and Pratchett for that one person who doesn't walk away scratching his head, who pulls down Neverwhere and says, "I love this book. Have you read Sandman?"

Now for all those people who aren't geeks but who like me anyway, I gotta say thank you. I know how hard it can be when something like Star Wars slips through my filter, and I'm halfway through a rant about George Lucas before I realize you're just smiling and nodding. You are awesome for talking to me again after that.

And for the rest of you geeks, I don't know why something as materialistic as comic books and movies should make us feel closer, but it does. Or maybe it just helps us to let our guards down so we can get to know the person behind the first impression. I don't know, but I'm always glad to find fellow geeks out there.

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  1. From one geek to another geek - I totally understand.

    Join me in our newly found Geekdom.

    I like you're 'Works in Progress' column. It makes me want one too. Mine is like a footer at the end of a post but it would be nice to have it in its own designated box to remind you every day.

  2. Geeks are good! My whole family are geeks and proud of it.

    And finding someone else who likes sci fi is always awesome. It felt such a furtive interest while I was growing up but now with Joss Whedon, Avatar, Star Wars, and Dr Who I think it's fairly mainstream.

  3. Jessie: You're welcome to the WIP idea (I'm pretty sure I stole it from somewhere else). I know when I run across a new author's blog, I'm always curious what they're working on, even if it's just an intriguing title and a percentage.

    Matt: Indeed.

    fairy: I have a family of geeks too, and it is pretty awesome. I think SF movies are more mainstream, but the book world doesn't yet have the same treatment it seems.

  4. FIREFLY!!!! :) :) :)
    i know exactly what you mean. the look they give you.

  5. You know I think most people get that look when they start a wanna-be-writer talking about their wip ;)

  6. We are the gods/goddesses of geekdom - we who create it. LOL.

    I'll tell you why discussing comics makes us feel closer. It's called acceptance. Back when I had a job from hell, I'd go to the comic book store on my lunch break just to BREATHE.

    Discuss Gaiman, Pratchett and Lucas all you want - I'll probably throw in a few more names and we can have nice chat over tea and scones like normal geeks. :)

  7. They can't take the sky from us, aspiring.

    Elaine: That's a good point. The politeness gets even worse if, even though they have no interest in spec-fic, they still ask me to talk about my book.

    Victoria: I know, right? There's something about being understood. About being able to ask the question, "Which superpower would you have?" and have a thousand examples to choose from besides simply "To fly."

  8. I used to never read science fiction or fantasy. I used to think I hated it. Then I realized I love Star Wars and Star Trek and LOTR. So...I do like it! I just don't read much of it. Then I wrote a fantasy novella. Now I love the genre! Although I'm not sure I'll stay in that ring. I would be one of the, "Oh, really! That's cool" people if I met you face to face. :)

  9. That's all right, Michelle. I do pretty much the same thing with literary or romance (sorry!). But we can still be friends, right?

  10. yeah.. other then your name, the geekery part kind of sucked me in!

    I'm having an issue saying what i do too, i am feeling you on the "Really?!" bit.. as if, i couldn't BE this person.

    I'm learning. = ) thanks for the read.

  11. I can soooo relate. Well said. I have a really funny story I love to tell about this. I think I'll have to blog it this week. This guy's reaction was, "You don't really believe it, do you?"

    "What?" I asked.

    "You know, aliens and stuff."

    I leaned in and whispered, "It's fiction."

    But he still persisted. I guess he was more concerned with the alien question than the genre.

    It's much funnier when I deliver it orally. Want to swap blog roll links? My blog, Science Fiction and Other ODDysseys, just made another top sf blog list. http://sciencefictionmusings.blogspot.com

  12. Geek high five! I SO get where you're coming from. My own dad doesn't read Sci-fi or fantasy. Do you have a favorite Pratchett novel?

    And you should see some of the reactions I get from people when I tell them I write children's poetry. It's like I've grown an extra head.

  13. I can imagine, Myrna. I think Night Watch might be my favorite Pratchett novel. I love pretty much anything that stars Sam Vimes :-)

  14. My card says "Author and Rocket Scientist." Most people think I'm joking. Occasionally, I get the hopeful look, "Really?" The best response was from an artist I met on the way to the airport.

    "Oh! Maybe you'll get my jokes!"

    "Do you joke about science?"

    "Yeah, but no one understands my references to Big Bang Theory."

    "Welcome to the dark side!"

  15. Now that's a super-cool business card.

  16. When people ask me what I write, I tell them, "Fantasy."

    Then I feel compelled to add, "But there aren't any elves or dragons in my novel."