SF Fans: The Best and the Worst

Science fiction fandom is an incredibly interesting phenomenon. No other genre of entertainment inspires the same rabid passion that the likes of “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” and I think that’s because science fiction universes allow fans to utilize their imaginations. Where there certainly exists a solid fan base for sitcoms or romantic comedies or serialized dramas like Law and Order none of these forms of entertainment rely on the viewer or entertained to exercise their imagination.

When a cop fires his gun in Law and Order the viewer knows what a gun is and is easily able to accept how and why it works because of its existence in reality. When Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader ignite their lightsabers the viewer either has to accept the technology and suspend their disbelief, an action that becomes harder and harder to do in the more cynical world today, or they let their minds wander and think about how something like a lightsaber comes into existence. The same actions are taken every time the U.S.S. Enterprise goes into warp speed or any time a Vulcan shows up on screen. Whether viewers suspend their disbelief or jump further down the rabbit hole of science fiction and fantasy they are, at least for a moment, thinking outside of the constraints of the day to day world, which can be extremely liberating.

Science fiction fandom isn’t all good, however. It seems as though every time a group of science fiction or fantasy fans get together to discuss any book, movie, television show or video game it quickly turns into a pretentious, conceded competition. Many fans see themselves as the ultimate fan and wield obscure knowledge about even obscurer science fiction narratives like a weapon to cut down any other fans. Science fiction fans look down on each other for their opinions on a particular franchise, like enjoying the “Star War” prequels, or for not having heard of a certain science fiction franchise, like “Babylon 5.” When fans put each other down like this it’s hard to feel bad for many of the misunderstandings and misconceptions concerning science fiction fandom in mainstream culture and media.

In recent years these same misconceptions have been applied to video games and gamers. With many video games like “Call of Duty” or “Mass Effect” turning into multi-million dollar franchises it’s hard to ignore the gaming industries increasing prominence, however, fans of games and fans of science fiction are drastically different. More often than not when I’ve assumed a friend of mine who is heavily into gaming is also heavily into science fiction I’ve been proven wrong. Some people play video games because they like puzzles, some because they like to shoot things, some because they think “Grand Theft Auto” is ridiculous. While gamers and science fiction fans do overlap from time to time, they are by no means synonymous.

Science fiction fandom is flawed and obnoxious, but it’s also liberating and incredibly interesting. While fans can be irritating they can also foster a community of people that aren’t afraid to think outside of the box.

-Joshua Lawson

One Response to “SF Fans: The Best and the Worst”

  1. Warren Rochelle says:

    So where do you put yourself?