Before I dive deeply into this post, did I ever mention how much of a nerd I am? Yes, I run an anime blog that I post on very inconsistently on that I share my opinions on and all that, but do you know my non-anime side? Do you know how much I love anything science fiction? I not only watch a lot of science fiction movies and anime, I read a lot of science fiction novels. Fantasy is in that collection thing to, because I am going through some parts of Robert Jordon’s Wheel of Time series right now and I have read others, but it never clicked with me as well. Especially after reading some staples like Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia quite a few times when I was a kid. My reading level was insanely high when I was younger because of this aspect. I don’t read as much as I used to, but I still do it. I’m lucky if I get to read up to an hour a day. Still, back to the point, science fiction. I never understood why most people stay away from it and just call it that nerd thing. What is there to be afraid of? Is it too different and unusual for the normal audience? I realize that this post isn’t very anime focused, but anime does play a heavy role in my love of sci fi.
Science Fiction is always something that always spoke to me on so many levels. It took me a while to find out why. To me, science fiction is a refined stream of consciousness based on societies mindset. I am not professional in analyzing media in this sort of way, but I have not seen a lot of evidence to the contrary. For instance, dystopia and time travel types of science fiction stories have been crazy popular recently. Things like the Hunger Games, From the New World, and Psycho Pass share a lot of societies’ anxiety about the future. Then time travel is rather obvious. I don’t know about you, but do you think that there is something from the past that you think needs fixing? Some regret that you are holding right now that is holding you back or ruined your present self? I know that I have plenty of those.
Then there is standard social commentary that each series comes with. The Expanse novels and tv series are a great example of this as well. Conflict in the Expanse involves three factions, but only happens because occurs of two of them. The Earth and Mars are always at each other’s throats for historical reasons and the man-made colonies and asteroid colonies in between them suffer as a result. Does that sound familiar to you, besides it sounding like Gundam? Science Fiction is wonderful in that sort of way.
Fantasy stories never held as much of a thematic weight to me as science fiction has. It’s a lot more escapist in my eyes. The basic fantasy stories always feel the same with their big medieval world with uppity elves, industrial dwarves, humans in the middle, sacred objects that need to be found or else the world will end, kingly bloodlines, hero groups traveling across the land, and so many other things. Urban fantasy is a new type of fantasy story that has appeared in recent years. I mean, magical shenanigans in our current era of time. Pretty awesome. Then there are magical school things that Harry Potter and other contemporary fantasy works. I know that there are a lot of other types of fantasy stories too, like Science Fantasy, which look science fiction but follow fantasy tropes and concepts. There are a lot different types of fantasy stories, but no matter how you slice it, it’s mostly escapism “I am the chosen one” kind of stuff. It doesn’t matter what kind of media it’s from, whether its from Books, movies, tv shows, and anime, they all do the same sorts of things when it comes to being a fantasy series.
This doesn’t mean that I think that fantasy stories can’t be as thematically strong. Oh no, that’s not true at all. As an example, I think that Lord of the Rings is a commentary on the World Wars and the fear caused by the industrial revolution. I know that I can be completely wrong on this, but that’s how I feel. As one of a few major influences to starting high fantasy, most others fall short on this from a thematic level. Then, I am sure that urban fantasy series have their themes and interests as well, but fantasy series are always about dealing with the past. Science Fiction stories center around what our future might be, which is more interesting to me.
What always astounds me about Science Fiction is how much variability it has. While things like Star Trek with spaceships flying around and having adventures in politics and warfare in space is the first thing that people usually think about it, it’s easier to make a science fiction series then one would think. Take Orphan Black as an example. The only technology in that show which was brought forward was cloning and thus began the adventures of these clones trying not to be treated like lab rats for the rest of their lives. Any technology brought ahead of its time can make an interesting social commentary like that Or there the standard time travel that shows up in our current time period that really shakes things up. Then of course there is cyber punk insanity like the Ghost in the Shell franchise. A genre where technology and the internet are highly prevalent and some questions about the nature of humanity are brought up to be commented on. There are probably many others that I haven’t even talked about, because Science Fiction is a huge genre that has large amount of sub genres. That’s why I love it so much. I can go from one science fiction show to another without the fear of over lapping ideas and themes most of the time. Even then, there is no one to one way one show is going to be an exact copy of another. Then there is the levels of science fiction hardness and realism that adds even more variability to the science fiction craziness. Just take it, science fiction. Take all my love.
Yes, I know that science fiction is far from being flawless too. There are some elements like space elves like the Minbari from Babylon 5 and the Vulcans in Star Trek. Then there is that whole humanity is special thing which is prevalent throughout most space science fiction stuff. Since science fiction is made by us humans, because honestly who else would write it? (dolphins? mice? aliens?). In these stories, we always have that special something that aliens don’t have for some reason. We all don’t think alike or look alike compared to those other species that are crammed together to think similarly, so we automatically have a clearer point of view and are something unique. That’s partially a way to make writing easier and partially some very bad things that you are already thinking about. Whether or not that is good or bad, that’s just the truth. Then there is the Earth and Mars conflict that is a part of most stories as a background element. Not much of a flaw, just an overused trope. I bet there are other aspects that I am not thinking of right now, but Science Fiction isn’t perfect either. Nothing touched by human hands is perfect, which is why we are always striving for perfection. Maybe that’s another science fiction thing.
The series that I love the most are usually something with a political edge to it. As of this moment, Babylon 5 is my favorite series. Babylon 5is a station that is an outpost controlled by the Earth Government (for a while) that also serves as a place in which aliens send their ambassadors to promote peace (so like a space U.N.) and solve any disputes that occur be between different races. Of course, a lot of craziness and adventure is going to be centered around a place like that. That’s why it’s a good show. Then there is the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, and Continuum that also come to mind. On the anime front, there is Legend of the Galactic Heroes, the Gundam franchise (obviously), From the New World, and the Ghost in the Shell franchise that I love to death. In book form, I really like the Ring World series by Larry Niven, Hitchhiker Guide’s to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and Iain Bank’s Culture series. Whenever a new science fiction series appears, I have to at least give it a chance. It might end up being one of my favorites, it might end up being complete garbage that I want to never watch again, or somewhere in-between. Who knows?
In conclusion, if something like watching or reading a lot of Science Fiction (and fantasy) along with watching anime separates is frowned upon by a majority of people, I don’t care. I’m a nerd and I have never tried to hide that fact from anyone. While I realize that nerd media is supposed to be “cool” these days, that’s not true for everything. Some things with more substance than plain ol’ action movies and things don’t gather an audience as well as one would think. I am not going to do that pseudo intellectual and hipster thing of “well, not everybody gets it because it’s too smart for them”, people always end up liking what they like. I like what I like and don’t need self-validation for my opinions. (Wow, that went a little too dark and existential). So anyway, this is a post is a small set up post to more content that I am planning soon. I plan on talking about a book that an author asked me too and some light novel stuff. I have grimgar volume 1 headed my way soon along with the second volume of The Legend of the Galactic Heroes light novel, so I want to read those and talk about them at some point after I am done with the novel that I am currently reading. I only read a small amount of time a day and this book is over seven hundred pages long, so that might take a week or two.
So anyway, do you guys love science fiction? If you do, what are some your favorite shows and/or books? If you don’t, what is something that drives you away from it. Maybe I can suggest a series a series for you to try?