15th February 2006: Why I love SF

I love the way SF can take something I thought I knew and turn it around on me, without cheating. I love the way you can have completely new societies, thought experiment societies, with their own extrapolated mores and ways of thought, and I get them as immersive stories, not as flat blueprints. I love the smell of the air when I step off a spaceship on a new planet, and the colour of the shadows. I love being able to think like an alien — and being able to contemplate the resonances of what treachery to the species means. I love the smell of oil on the gantries of the space station, and if adventure is somewhere else in trouble a long way away, I love watching them seeing the shape of the space in terms of somewhere to hide and shoot. I love picking something up to read without knowing anything about it other than genre and reading the first sentence and seeing the infinite possible stories beginning to fine down to the one in my hand. I love the way SF as a genre encompasses such incredibly disparate things and they’re all in dialogue with each other.

I love it when it makes my mind larger, and I love it best when it isn’t a metaphor or an analogy (applicability is something else) but is its own thing, its own story with as many pyrotechnics as you like about people who are not like me (but are) and whose problems need their context to be explicable.

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