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Why each of us loves science fiction and fantasy...

#1 User is online   obsolete toaster Icon

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 06:52 PM

An interesting conversation with our own Ensign Edwards brought this thread into existence. Some of here are science fiction fans, some of us fantasy fans, many of us love both. Our mutual love of Battlestar Galactica (TOS, Nu, or both) brought us here, but what is it that keeps us forever chasing that next 'new thing' in our genre of choice?

The things I respond to in science fiction are manifold; good characters, story, etc are always the most important things, granted. But we could get those things in a cop/lawyer/doctor show, so why do we seek out scifi/fantasy?

As a kid, I've always been drawn to the things that seemed greater than the mundane world around me; dinosaurs and monsters were my passion when I was a very little kid. Then, at around 9 years old, I saw the first pictures coming from the surface of the planet Mars. A planet that looked much like a desert here on earth, except that it had a salmon colored sky, rusty soil, and an atmosphere about 1/100th of ours here on Earth! Wow... this wasn't Mojave. Then a year later, in the summer of '77? I (like so many others of my generation) was transported to a "Galaxy far, far away..."

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After that I started reading Bradbury, Asimov, Clarke. The ABCs of scifi. Unlike dinosaurs and monsters (which I still enjoy somewhat), this passion for space travel and science fiction was a keeper. THIS was the 'girl I was going to marry' as it were.

Years later, at around 13 or so, I got my first telescope and saw the phases of Venus, the rings of Saturn, the bands of Jupiter, and the Orion Nebula. Then came Carl Sagan's COSMOS (the book AND the TV show). That book pretty much defined my ideology to this day. I'm not a religious person, but if you could call a book my 'bible'? This one would most likely be it.

Now, at the ripe, ancient age of 45, I am still forever chasing the next scifi buzz, wherever I can find it. And sadly, I find that I have to sort through a LOT of crap to get that next good true scifi 'fix' but when it happens? It's usually very much worth it. :thumbup:

So why am I 'still in the game' when so many others my age seem to just 'outgrow' this kind of stuff? I think because there's a part of me that's still a dreamer, still an optimist; despite my ever-increasing cynicism. And I think science fiction is one of the few genres left that goes beyond this ordinary mundane world we live our 9 to 5 lives in and dares to imagine what's beyond that next double sunset.... :D

And in the best science fiction? It's a genre that often tackles the issues that ordinary fiction is too afraid or frankly dull-minded to confront. The big questions and big issues. Science fiction offers us a prism through which not only to see our world through different eyes, but also to see the rights and wrongs of our world through other objective viewpoints as well.

So, while we soak in the alien vistas and grandiose spaceships with our eyes? The really good worthwhile science fiction also feeds and engages our brains as well....


Anyone else?
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#2 User is offline   sean Icon

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 07:01 PM

I just like the beautiful chicks in skimpy outfits...Posted Image
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Posted 18 February 2012 - 07:02 PM

View Postsean, on 18 February 2012 - 07:01 PM, said:

I just like the beautiful chicks in skimpy outfits...Posted Image

:roflmao: :roflmao: :roflmao:

That's why you're the coolest, sean! :bowdown:
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#4 User is offline   maneth Icon

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 01:35 AM

I've been a sci-fi fan since before I can remember. I didn't see any of the original Star Wars movies even though I suppose I should have been old enough at least for RotJ. Some neighbors had all the comics and lots of action figures, and I loved playing with them even though I must have been around 15 when I finally saw them on VHS. I can still remember what fun it was to sit in a cardboard box with flaps and pretend I was flying my very own X-wing. The secret of acting in front of a greenscreen? Channel 8 year old maneth! Although physically a coward (I was all of 8 years old before I learned to ride a bike without supporting wheels) I was pretty much a tomboy and liked boy stuff. Luckily toys weren't as gender-segregated then as they are today, worse luck for today's kids.

The first "adult" book I ever read was The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I had just turned 13 and my English was finally good enough after 6 months in England to read a full-sized rather than abridged book.
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Posted 19 February 2012 - 01:44 AM

View Postmaneth, on 19 February 2012 - 01:35 AM, said:

The secret of acting in front of a greenscreen? Channel 8 year old maneth!

The first "adult" book I ever read was The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I had just turned 13 and my English was finally good enough after 6 months in England to read a full-sized rather than abridged book.


Love your 'tip' about greenscreen acting. That's too cute, maneth. :D I could just picture an 8 yr old maneth saying, "Use the force..." :P


As for Martian Chronicles? That was also my first 'adult' sci fi book as well (that wasn't a novelization of a TV show or movie; hee hee), and my first introduction to who would later be my FAVORITE scifi writer, Ray Bradbury. I read it at about 11 or 12 yrs old (post Star Wars; around the time I got into TOS BSG). I devoured as many Ray Bradbury books as I could after that. My autographed first edition hardback of "From the Dust Returned" is the one book in my collection that will have to be pried from my cold, smelly, dead hands someday. Even though it's not my favorite Bradbury book? It marks the first time I met him, back in January of 2004 at the Planetfest in Pasadena, celebrating the landing of the Spirit Mars Rover (one of the perks of being a Planetary Society member!). I cherish it dearly...

As for playing Star Wars? Hell, I'm 45 yrs old and I still play Star Wars with my god kids when I babysit them (I keep three toy light sabers in the house for when they come over... and if they don't? My wife and I will use them... :P )
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#6 User is offline   ensign edwards Icon

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:01 PM

What do I love about fantasy? A lot. My reasons are very complex, and I'm still not sure I fully understand all of them, but here are some of the broad strokes:

Partly, it's simply that I find the real world boring. Don't ask me why. It just seems... pointless. None of us really matter; none of us will be remembered long after our deaths. Our parents tell us we're special, but we're not. We're just another inauspicious human in a long line of them, bumbling along randomly until our lives draw to a close. There's no moral to our stories. There's no point or purpose.

But in fantasy, things matter. People matter. Decisions matter. There's a point to events. There's a sort of beautiful order to things, and there's the comforting knowledge that everything will be okay when the book or movie ends. Sure, sometimes there are unhappy or tragic endings, but I feel -- and I know many will disagree -- a story has failed if it doesn't provide us with a happy or at least somewhat optimistic ending.

I also like stories that present interesting moral conflicts or dilemmas. Sure, you can do this with stories set in the real world, but in a fantasy world, where anything is possible, there's so much more potential. You can look at things from angles you couldn't with a story set in the real world.

I hate to do this to you guys, but once again, I find a good example in the Warcraft universe. Now, Warcraft is generally pretty simple (bordering on the mindless at times), but once in a while, they tackle some very weighty issues, and one of the best examples of this is the Blood Elves. Their storyline dealt with intense subjects like addiction and what it's like to survive a genocide.

Again, you could cover these with a real world story. You could write a story about a man who is hopelessly addicted, who suffers constant agony from withdrawal and fears he will die if he doesn't get his next fix. You could even make him the survivor of a genocide to add more drama.

But it's so much more interesting when the story is about an entire race that is hopelessly addicted and in the constant agony of withdrawal. There's so much more drama for the characters when they fear that not finding their next fix will not only kill them, but bring about the extinction of their entire species and culture -- a culture that has already been ravaged beyond repair by a nightmarish genocide.

The Blood Elves did some awful things after their fall, consorting with Demons and other monsters. But can you honestly say you would have done differently? Could you really have said, "Yes, our civilization has been crushed, and we're all dying a slow and agonizing death from withdrawal, but I'm not going to accept the one and only offer of help our people have received. This guy seems kind of fishy."

That's the kind of story you just can't tell in a real world setting.

Also on the subject of morality, there's what I said in my opening blog post about how I find the concept of ultimate evil oddly comforting. If ultimate evil exists, then, theoretically, so must ultimate good. I would happily make the world suffer through a Darth Vader or a Lich King (who are really the same character, let's face it) if it meant we could get a Luke Skywalker or a Thrall in exchange.

I also love the sense of history the genre brings. I'm not sure why, but I can never get enough of the vast histories people create for fantasy worlds. In the Three Worlds books, I think I almost enjoy reading about the worlds' ancient history more than the actual action of the books.

And I like studying the differing psychologies of the non-human races in fantasy culture. OT may zone out when he hears about Elves and Dragons, but I love trying to imagine the world through the eyes of a being who has an entirely different perspective and thought process from a human.

And then there's the mystery and sense of adventure that comes from a universe where literally anything is possible.

Finally, there's the more basic appeals, like "Elves r hawt" and "lazerz go pew pew." Sometimes, it's just fun to watch people beat each over the head with flaming swords.

I think I'll close it there, as I've already written a small book here, but I think I've covered all the main reasons why fantasy appeals to me. Most of this also holds true for science fiction, though not all of it. Sci-fi tends to lack the sense of history fantasy brings, for instance.
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#7 User is offline   maneth Icon

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 01:35 PM

I guess you haven't read the right sci-fi... Try Isaac Asimov's Foundation series for a truly epic perspective.
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#8 User is offline   ensign edwards Icon

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 02:55 PM

I've read it. It put me to sleep.
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Posted 19 February 2012 - 03:14 PM

View Postensign edwards, on 19 February 2012 - 02:55 PM, said:

I've read it. It put me to sleep.

It's like hearing myself talk about Tolkein... :P
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#10 User is offline   Captain Taurus Icon

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 01:07 AM

It all started for me when I was just a wee lad, not even talking yet when my parents threw me in front of the babysitter (TV) and I was watching a show in black and white called Star Trek. Well I gravitated to Star Trek even when i learned to walk and talk. By the time I was five, space ships was on my mind constantly. I love the thought of flying through space.

Once I turned 10, I had been exposed to Star Trek, Star Wars, BSG (Classic), Star Blazers, Space 1999 and a little British Show called Doctor Who...I was brainwashed I tell you! You are probably thinking why a cool guy like me is into such nerdy things. Well I will tell you, it is just a facade that I put on. I just pretend to be cool. LOL... I am really a big nerd. And my fondness for Sci Fi became very profound when I saw the shuttle launch for the first time in 1981. So cool that was to see the Columbia escape Earth's gravity and float in out space around the Earth. So much footage, so many details and such an influence on my interest in outer space.

Sci Fi went from being entertainment for me to becoming an escape for me. It become more so when I was 13 and my parents divorced. It was either do drugs or lose myself in Sci fi, so I decided to lose myself in sci fi. I bought posters, comics, toys, models, movies anything and everything that was sci fi. I went to many conventions here in Toronto and Buffalo. Anywhere that I could afford to go. It has been a great journey. I still to this day love sci fi...it is still my drug of choice and I love it.

In recent years my addiction to Sci Fi (not Syfy) has been influence primarily by a little show called Battlestar Galactica...perhaps you have heard of it and a great site called Galacticabbs.com. Where I have made many posts and many friends. I love it because it deals with human drama, moralities, life and death struggles, and issues that pertain to us today. Plus a great looking blonde named Katee Sackhoff! tee hee...I love sci fi because of the action, the drama, the SFX and the potential it has on influencing mankind in a positive way. That is why I love Sci Fi.

Thank you
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Posted 20 February 2012 - 02:01 AM

That was great, buddy! :bowdown:

(Thunderous applause from OT, in front of the computer screen). :cylonclap: :cylonclap: :cylonclap:
Heartfelt and moving, as well as wonderfully geeky and funny. Thanks SO MUCH for sharing that. :nBSGsalute:
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Posted 20 February 2012 - 09:47 AM

I also agree with what EE said as well; scifi (paraphrasing from his fantasy word usage) is like a ticket away from the boring, inconsequential world we normally occupy. Science fiction has always (for me) shown what tantalizingly lies just beyond our reach (for the moment). It can be both roadmap and lesson for what lies ahead....

In my lifetime however, I've seen a LOT of (formerly) 'scifi' concepts realized. Even though we never did get the household robots and flying cars, the fact that I'm writing this message which can be received instantly around the world a second or two after I send it is pretty freaking amazing in my book. We have multiple robots on and orbiting Mars, we've landed a robot probe as far as Saturn's moon Titan (something I never thought would happen in my lifetime; great job, ESA!). And despite my ambiguous feelings for it's usefulness, we have a permanently manned space station circling overhead every 90 minutes or so.
And these days, EVERYBODY has phones that puts Star Trek's communicators and tricorders of the '60s to complete and utter shame! :w00t:

I wake up some mornings and really feel like I live in the 'scifi' age; other days I wake up, read the news and see how far we have to go.... :doh:
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Posted 20 February 2012 - 10:42 PM

View Postobsolete toaster, on 20 February 2012 - 02:01 AM, said:

That was great, buddy! :bowdown:

(Thunderous applause from OT, in front of the computer screen). :cylonclap: :cylonclap: :cylonclap:
Heartfelt and moving, as well as wonderfully geeky and funny. Thanks SO MUCH for sharing that. :nBSGsalute:


Thank you! Thank you for picking a great topic. :adama-pancarte001:
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Posted 21 February 2012 - 11:22 PM

I think another reason I love scifi is that it tackles present day conundrums and dilemmas through the prism of fresh perspective. The best scifi is more than spaceships and robots; it's about ideas.

My favorite author, Ray Bradbury (whom I feel frakking privileged and lucky-as-hell to have met twice) has often said, "Science fiction may be one of the last places in our society where the philosopher can roam just as freely as he chooses."

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Posted Image << Official OT Hero and Literary God.... :bowdown: :cylonclap:

You don't see a lot of in-depth challenging perspectives on cop shows, People's Court or on Mama's Family.... :doh:
It positively tickles my old brain to see a show or movie that takes an issue I've always had ONE perspective or position on and turns it on its head. Like BSG's "Occupation of New Caprica" arc did for me; with our 'heroes' becoming suicide bombers and terrorists "for the cause." And the interesting twist of having a red-headed, freckled-faced all-"American" looking kid ("Duck") blow a bunch of police recruits to hell with his strap-on suicide vest. It's usually an act seen on TV committed by some evil 'ethnic person' with a Middle Eastern accent (I'm looking at YOU, "24"). It made me think; what would we in America do if WE were occupied? I'd never honestly considered the issue until I saw that episode. The best science fiction will do that for you; not make you become a suicide bomber (hopefully), but make you THINK about something in a different way than your previous experiences have led you to thus far. That's what it does BEST!

And the issues can range from the growing class disparity and economic crisis (HG Wells "Time Machine" and the recent "In Time") to sentient machine life ("A.I", the Cylons, Data on "Star Trek-TNG", the list goes on and on ad infinitum) to how we treat our pets (The French animated movie, "Savage Planet" "Planet of the Apes" and many others). You don't see these issues explored on most other shows in quite the way that science fiction can. One of the things I love so much about it; it's both challenging and stimulating.
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Posted 23 February 2012 - 11:34 AM

My intro was thanks to my dad. A couple of things we rarely ever missed on Saturdays were trips to the grandparents house and watching Star Trek: TOS episodes. He always took my sister and I to all the new movies too. We pretty much watched TNG epiosdes together too. We used to take long road trips and we would sometimes listen to audio books which were always sci-fi in nature.
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Posted 23 February 2012 - 04:23 PM

View Postdsgtdave, on 23 February 2012 - 11:34 AM, said:

My intro was thanks to my dad. A couple of things we rarely ever missed on Saturdays were trips to the grandparents house and watching Star Trek: TOS episodes. He always took my sister and I to all the new movies too. We pretty much watched TNG epiosdes together too. We used to take long road trips and we would sometimes listen to audio books which were always sci-fi in nature.

You were lucky, dave... :thumbup:

Sadly, my late father hated scifi... at least publicly. Privately, I think he kind of dug it, but if asked he'd just say "Bah. It's silly fantasy..." (now imagine that phrase spoken with a gruff, Francais-Basque accent and you get the idea). But I still remember the utter awe in his face when he saw "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind" and "Jurassic Park." I think he even enjoyed "Star Wars" and "Empire" too; if nothing else, he responded to their scope and action (although I kind of don't blame him for falling asleep during "Return of the Jedi"; he called the Ewoks "stupid").
:doh:

I have a sneaking suspicion that if he'd lived long enough (he died about 18 yrs ago)? I could've brought him to the 'scifi side' with me.... :cylon_newanime012: :naughty3dg:
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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:03 PM

Kids sure do take after their parents when they still have them as being golden in their eyes. I am a meathead. I watch football religiously and my kids are always picking up the ball wanting to throw it around. I watch a show and they want to. Sadly I can't let them watch the Killing or Walking Dead yet. Too young.

Point is it is and was a huge influence.
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#18 User is offline   Nanouk Icon

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 05:04 AM

View Postsean, on 18 February 2012 - 07:01 PM, said:

I just like the beautiful chicks in skimpy outfits...Posted Image


With Sean on this one ...

Thats PART of it (big part ... ) but Im not sure I like the whole alternative universe thing.
I mean movies that show us the world how it is NOW .. are just not that interesting cause Im living in this world NOW
Sci Fi kind of tickles ones imagination more as in how it COULD be.
However, my standard for watching ANYTHING (movie, series etc.) is that the characters have to be good. I have to be able to in some way identify with them understand what they're about and in the best cases even feel like one of the team while watching. Yes I feel like I've served aboard the Galactica for 5 years, Ive been off world with my fave SG team, I've been shooting Aliens with Ripley and her gang and ive been slaying zombies with Alice. Thats what makes a good movie an AWSOME movie to me if I can get the feeling Im really part of the adventure ... I dont know if this makes sense.
Its a feeling Id never get from a romantic comedy for example ...
As to fantasy vs sci fi. I started as a HUGE fantasy geek (hello LOTR Prophet right here) but over the years that has changed a bit... when I was younger I often couldn't deal with the absurdity of some sci fi (read: Star Trek) and still I prefer the more 'realistic' sci fi over the over-the-top sci fi if you know what I mean. Thats the reason I never REALLY got into star trek, I mean I watched all of TNG .. but who doesn't! It's like the Dutch say a 'too far from my bed show'. I can't related to it as well. I can't rationalize some of the science, and I personally can't accept what I can't rationalize.
Which is a personal flaw I know that LOL. I mean a lot of sci fi isn't real and prob cant BE real but if I can justify for myself how something COULD be done .. im good. I have the same problem with watchiing movies/series that involve medical stuff... more often than unoften they are horribly wrong. But sometimes I can cut them some slack and think of this bizare way how this can be true (I dreamed up 'brain reversal effects' in Stargate to justify their occipital lobes to be located at the front of the brain ... yeah that bad....). And I enjoy doing that. My friends hate me for it and call me a spoil sport. It's even worse if it is me and my physics PhD friend .. then its just bitching central in the movie theatre LOL. But yeah so SciFi all the way but for me within 'limits' of what I can fathom to be a possible future for mankind.
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Posted 06 March 2012 - 09:42 AM

View PostNanouk, on 06 March 2012 - 05:04 AM, said:

With Sean on this one ...

Thats PART of it (big part ... ) but Im not sure I like the whole alternative universe thing.
I mean movies that show us the world how it is NOW .. are just not that interesting cause Im living in this world NOW
Sci Fi kind of tickles ones imagination more as in how it COULD be.
However, my standard for watching ANYTHING (movie, series etc.) is that the characters have to be good. I have to be able to in some way identify with them understand what they're about and in the best cases even feel like one of the team while watching. Yes I feel like I've served aboard the Galactica for 5 years, Ive been off world with my fave SG team, I've been shooting Aliens with Ripley and her gang and ive been slaying zombies with Alice. Thats what makes a good movie an AWSOME movie to me if I can get the feeling Im really part of the adventure ... I dont know if this makes sense.
Its a feeling Id never get from a romantic comedy for example ...
As to fantasy vs sci fi. I started as a HUGE fantasy geek (hello LOTR Prophet right here) but over the years that has changed a bit... when I was younger I often couldn't deal with the absurdity of some sci fi (read: Star Trek) and still I prefer the more 'realistic' sci fi over the over-the-top sci fi if you know what I mean. Thats the reason I never REALLY got into star trek, I mean I watched all of TNG .. but who doesn't! It's like the Dutch say a 'too far from my bed show'. I can't related to it as well. I can't rationalize some of the science, and I personally can't accept what I can't rationalize.
Which is a personal flaw I know that LOL. I mean a lot of sci fi isn't real and prob cant BE real but if I can justify for myself how something COULD be done .. im good. I have the same problem with watchiing movies/series that involve medical stuff... more often than unoften they are horribly wrong. But sometimes I can cut them some slack and think of this bizare way how this can be true (I dreamed up 'brain reversal effects' in Stargate to justify their occipital lobes to be located at the front of the brain ... yeah that bad....). And I enjoy doing that. My friends hate me for it and call me a spoil sport. It's even worse if it is me and my physics PhD friend .. then its just bitching central in the movie theatre LOL. But yeah so SciFi all the way but for me within 'limits' of what I can fathom to be a possible future for mankind.



Well put, Nan.

I agree with a lot of that. WIth shows like BSG, etc we feel like we are vicariously 'living the adventure' with them, so to speak. That's part of why I watch; the characters draw me in. The spectacle and adventure keep me there. If I don't relate or invest in the characters? Even the prettiest pictures just get boring for me ("Terra Nova"; looking at YOU....).

And yes, I have to bite my physics/astronomy geek tongue when watching "Star Trek" and "Star Wars"; both of which are scifi/fantasy hybrids, IMO (and yes, it IS very far from my bed too). But the problem is, I started watching ST when I was a little kid and didn't know any better (ditto Star Wars). By the time I began to really get into and understand 'real' science, it was too late. I fell in love with both! :wub:

Thanks for sharing that, Nan.... :cylonclap:
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Posted 07 March 2012 - 11:10 AM

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I mean movies that show us the world how it is NOW .. are just not that interesting cause Im living in this world NOW


Good point. I feel the same -- I'm not interested in stories that depict things that are too ordinary. I can experience those things myself in my real life. Even in sci-fi or fantasy stories, I tend to zone out if a plot is too ordinary -- a love story or a family drama -- unless they have some unique fantastical element.

For example, I don't enjoy romance stories, as a general rule. I'm perfectly capable of meeting a girl and falling in love, thanks, I don't need a book to experience it. But give it a fantasy twist, and I might enjoy it. This was the case in the book I just finished, "Greatshadow." The book began with the main character's death, but his ghost wound up haunting the woman he'd loved (but been too afraid to confess his feelings to) in life. I found the tragic nature of the story very compelling -- for him to be so close and yet so far from the woman he loves, separated by the barrier between living and dead.

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But sometimes I can cut them some slack and think of this bizare way how this can be true (I dreamed up 'brain reversal effects' in Stargate to justify their occipital lobes to be located at the front of the brain ... yeah that bad....).


Personally, I think part of the fun of being a nerd is trying to come up with explanations for all the plot holes and inconsistencies. :P
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