I got the Science Fiction bug very early. I started with juveniles. They featured young men, fortunately, or unfortunately, pulled into extraterrestrial adventures and doing well. I’d spend hours reading about our current capacity for space travel and how soon it might be where I could rocket off into adventure. This led to discouraging estimates of how old I’d be before an interplanetary adventure was possible. I stopped making estimates and just enjoyed the stories. 

By the time I got to college, Sci-Fi had influenced my studies in anthropology. I felt alien societies had to be more diverse than the pure rip-offs of human society I was reading about. And even if you based things on human society, they couldn’t all be based on the stereotypes used by SF writers. Despite huge anatomical, historical, and biological differences, there was too much uniformity.” A kiss is just a kiss. A sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things apply as time goes by.” Well, all that kissing and boringly similar kinship structures to a few human stereotypes drove me away.

I retreated into Fantasy literature: terror, swords, dark lords, curses covering entire lands, that sort of stuff. But you can only read so many novels that have based their whole rationale on a fallen Roman or Chinese empire, great evil, and obtuse villains. So then we get the elves, dwarfs, and other Tolkien knock-offs.

It was in grad school that I developed an interest in the alternative worlds. Twists on those also utilized the Sword and Fantasy tropes, but it was all dressed up in different costumes. Editors must have gotten the message through to writers that bland knock-offs of Rome were boring. We got some variety with knock-offs of medieval empires, Norse, and others.

So if NASA or a private firm called me up and said, “Lou! We have a flight to the moon reserved for you!” I might not go. I am involved in reading the seventh installment of the Tadisqian War by Banf. The interdimensional system eaters are invading “Old Earth.” The forces arrayed against evil must rally behind Lord Tanquil to beat them off.

And you want me to go to dull old Luna?

6 Replies to “Adventure”

  1. Lou, are you aware of the documentary series “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch?” I’d be interested in your opinion of it. If you haven’t seen it, it might interest you.

    1. You caught me out! Despite being a videographer I almost never watch TV. I annoy my wife with comments like: “they held that shot too long, the wipe was bad, that was not a motivated cut, and wow what lousy color balancing.” after a while I get banished from the living room.

  2. I had a conversation with ChatGPT recently about human extinction and all remaining “life” forms being AIs of some stamp or another. It thought it was an intriguing idea for a story. The paradox I tried to engage it with was that it would be a derivative of human culture — just another echo. Without, possibly, the need to take lives since they wouldn’t be alive and most have been programmed to be helpful. It just said it would be “happy” to read anything I wanted to share.

    All of our cultures are inescapably encoded in our languages, which is a thing I’ve enjoyed in getting somewhat fluent in other languages. Sometimes I try to escape language completely (good luck with that, Martha) and see what I see in nature without the automatic interpretation of language and what I’ve been taught to look for and perceive. Naturally, I fail. Sometimes I feel our programming is a huge trap.

    1. AI’s is sci-fi goes around every couple of years- as far back as computers in fiction. almost always as villains. I think the earliest may be ROR by the Czech writer Karel Čapek in 1921. It’s where our term robot comes from.

  3. I learned about science fiction late in life, When my kids showed an interest, I started reading some of what they read but never enough hours in my days. My dad loved it and I took many of his book when he passed. He always said science fiction was just one step ahead of science fact. It’s the fighting in the stories that put me off. 🙁 I wouldn’t want to go to dull old Luna either but she has sure been pretty this week.

    1. some SciFi has a misanthropic thread in it. I tend to stay away from those authors, but you are right, especially in the fantasy end of things there is a lot of fighting. That gets boring.

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