Journal 9-10: On Fandom

I’m not the biggest or most obsessive fan of any particular science fiction author/series/book/film/etc. I’ve never cosplayed, written fan fiction, or created a sci fi website. I don’t regularly keep up with the latest news and books on/of the genre. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t thoroughly enjoy some science fiction, because I certainly do.

Whenever I’m at a used bookstore I always comb the shelves looking for books by Philip K. Dick. Sure there are reprints of many of his books, but the new versions have cheesy updated covers. I prefer the cheesy old covers. I’ve read five of Dick’s novels and a few of his short stories. I have a few more of his books waiting on my ‘to read’ shelf, but they aren’t at the top of list right now. One of the most obsessive fan-like things I’ve done is look through all the covers of A Scanner Darkly on Dick’s website to see if mine was the most awesome, it is. I have tried to write stories that turned out to be pretty much rip-offs of Dick’s style. One was about a new trend among teenagers called “shocking,” basically people would hook themselves up to a machine that would electrically stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain. So, if I’m a fan of any sci-fi, I’d say I’m a Philip K. Dick fan, although I’ve never seen Blade Runner (which dick was really excited about) I have read the book it’s based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I am a fan of the sci fi cartoon show Futurama, I’ve watched it since it first aired in 1999 and have continued to enjoy it through its cancellation and rebirth. I love the future the series creates. Even though it’s set 1000 years in the future with all kinds of new technologies, it still shows that the universe will never be perfect.

The type of media I’m most obsessive about is music. I own an absurd number of CDs, records, and tapes (yes even tapes) and spend hours finding rare recordings of fringe musicians. I have a lot of favorites in a lot of different genres and am constantly finding new favorites on top of that. I’m not even going to get into how my music is organized on my computer. Sometimes my obsession with music overlaps with science fiction. For example, the progressive metal band Voivod presents a dystopian critique of North American society through their music. Another example is the Nashville Sputnik compilation album, which gathers space-inspired country recordings produced by Jack Blanchard. These songs aren’t as complex as Voivod’s analysis of society, but they are more fun to listen to. One more example is the Black Sabbath song, “Into the Void” from the album Masters of Reality (of which I own four physical copies for some stupid reason). “Into the Void” tells the story of a group of space colonists searching for a new planet because Earth has been wrecked by humanity.

Now, why does sci fi in particular create such passionate and obsessive responses? I think it stems largely from the genre’s emphasis on creating new worlds and realities. Fictional worlds allow the reader to escape from the constraints of this world and engage in the infinite possibilities of new worlds. I think this aspect of sci fi really lets fans exercise their imaginations in an immersive way, thereby creating intense mental investment. Fictional worlds also offer a form of escapism from the dystopia of modern life and allow readers to imagine a different world (which can be better or worse, depending on where the work falls on the utopia-dystopia spectrum.)

-Paul

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2 Responses to “Journal 9-10: On Fandom”

  1. pkeily says:

    Cosplaying is basically dressing up and/or acting like a specific character. I first heard of it from my friends who are Anime/Manga fans, but sci fi fans can do it too, like the Klingons in “Trekkies.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosplay

    I like the paper idea of SF themes in contemporary music. I’d say they’re most prevalent in heavy metal genres (since Black Sabbath in the 1970s) and also common but to a lesser extent in underground hip-hop.

  2. Warren Rochelle says:

    Cosplayed?
    Well said, thoughtful response. You could write a paper on SF themes in contemporary music.