My guilty secret.

Sometimes I feel like that I’m that person. The person in this sort of situation.

I walked into the room, a large, almost empty church hall. There was a group of chairs in the middle, arranged in a circle. I could see about ten people, the strange thing was, none of them turned to see who had just shut the door. As I looked closer, I could see that they were avoiding eye contact with each other too. I caught the mood of the room, like a wall, there wasn’t a person there who wanted to be there, except one. They must be the one in charge. I sat in an empty chair.

The person in charge looked at me, “now then everyone,” they said, “we have a new member today, let’s all say hello and make them feel welcome.”

There were muttered greetings, dragged from unwilling throats by the leader’s enthusiasm.

“Great to see you here,” they continued, “please tell us a little bit about yourself.”

I stood, gazed around, “Hello,” I said. “I’m Richard and I write Sci-Fi.”

Blue Moon over futuristic City

I don’t know about you,

but if someone told me they wrote in a particular genre; I wouldn’t say that I hated it in reply. Not online and certainly never in person. I’m far too polite, I’d probably answer in some other neutral way. I must be the exception, either that or I’m mixing in the wrong crowd.

I’ve been thinking about the reasons why people might view Sci-Fi in a negative way, I always ask why people don’t like the genre, apart from the haters with no justification apart from to say I just do, these are the general sense of the replies that I get.

  1. It’s seen as the preserve of geeky teenagers, glued to computer screens
  2. People remember dire 1950s B movies, pulp novels, comic books and poorly acted TV shows with dialogue more wooden than the sets
  3. It’s not seen as proper writing, almost unworthy of being called literature.
  4. They’re put off by the word Science or the thought that they will not be able to understand the setting or the technology.

Naturally, I feel somewhat defensive about what I write.

After all, it takes me just as long to write a novel as any other author. There’s still as much research needed, if not more. It all needs to fit together and have a logical plot. It needs editing and formatting, a decent cover.

I will also defend some 1950s Sci-Fi, there were stories with a message, The Day the Earth Stood Still highlighted man’s folly, This Island Earth gave us a sympathetic view of alien life and their own struggles. Many others played on the paranoia of the Cold War or the misuse of science.

It’s also worth considering that a lot of yesterdays Sci-Fi has become today’s fact, the satellite was practically an invention of Arthur C Clarke, sci-fi predicted lasers, space travel and much more.  

And Sci-Fi is popular in stories that people might not even realise are Sci-Fi. Jurassic Park, The Handmaids Tale, even The Time Travellers Wife; they’re all Sci-Fi.

As for the concern that Sci-Fi is too complex, is it any more so than programming the VHS used to be? Or explaining the dynamic of a multi-generational family in historical fiction?

What I really want to do is demystify Sci-Fi.

If I can make it accessible to people who wouldn’t normally read it, all well as aficionados, I consider that a job worth doing.

Because, at the end of the day, my stories are just that, stories. They might take place in an environment that doesn’t exist, that’s all. The stories are the same, love, loss, revenge, a search. They all contain basic human nature and emotions, in a new location.

As well as the space opera and the alternative history of my Steampunk adventures, I also write Crime Sci-Fi, with a reluctant amateur detective who’s out of her depth in a Sci-Fi world that she doesn’t really understand.

Which is kind of a nod to the people who are as bemused by Sci-Fi as Andorra Pett is.

Judging by some of the reviews I’ve been privileged to get; my particular brand of Sci-Fi has managed to entertain some non-Sci-Fi fans.

Remarks like these, for Andorra Pett,

I wouldn’t consider myself a sci-fi fan, but I so enjoyed this book maybe I am? 

The science-fiction side of things are very well written and even believable. 

I would not normally read sci-fi novels, however; I loved this book. 

Firstly I want to say that even if you don’t like Sci-Fi, don’t let that put you off giving this a go. 

I will be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of sci-fi books but when I read the blurb to this one and the fact it’s also a cosy crime and funny, I just had to give it a go. I am so glad I did! I loved it from start to finish.

And for Ribbonworld,

Not my usual genre, I was recommended this book by a friend. If you love sci-fi you will love this book – if like me you don’t usually read sci-fi you’ll still be drawn in by the murder-mystery thread. 

Sci-fi can often be too lacking in plot; in Ribbonworld, the author intertwines realism brilliantly with fantastical settings to create a very compelling read.

I’m not usually a fan of Science Fiction but Ribbonworld is a thriller that would work in any genre. 

Or Myra,

I don’t often read sci-fi, but found it easy to connect with the characters and the descriptions of the different galactic destinations. 

I hope you get my drift. The point I’m making is that not all Sci-Fi is the same. It doesn’t have to be incomprehensible, or something that you can’t relate to.

You might already be reading it.

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