OCT 1, 2012 — I’ve met many women who don’t read science fiction. They might enjoy supernatural, fantasy or historical romance. But anything with aliens, robots, space ships or lasers, don’t bother to beam them up, Scotty.
Reasons for their dislike include a lack of characters to whom they relate, pervasive misogyny in the genre, absence of emotional depth or romance, too much violence, and too many boring descriptions of aliens, machines and technology.
I’m a woman who likes science fiction, sci-fi, SF, or whatever you want to call it. There are women who write great futuristic stories for Carina Press. And I meet women at science fiction events. Yet, even there, I hear a lot of “I only became interested after watching Firefly with my boyfriend.” Or they don’t read the stuff, they just like steampunk cosplay, anime, RPGs or video games.
Maybe I should keep this to myself, since I’m a science fiction author, but I don’t read a lot of science fiction, either. I’m turning into a fan of steampunk, but steampunk is kind of a weird cross-genre thing that can be science fiction-y … or supernatural, fantasy, romance, historical, horror, mystery, Western and just about anything else.
For the purposes of this question, I’m mainly talking about futuristic lasers-pew pew science fiction.
I grew up with Star Wars, Buck Rogers, Battlestar Gallactica, Alien, Terminator and Star Trek. As a kid, I read my dad’s Heinlein books and Omni magazines, though I preferred Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes to his Martian Chronicles, and Michael Moorcock to Isaac Asimov, so I guess I had steampunk/supernatural leanings even then. My doctor is the Ninth Doctor and my favorite TV characters are Jayne Cobb, G’kar and Gul Dukat – all from science fiction shows.
Yet, when I settle down with a book, I tend to chose fantasy, romance, classics or non-fiction. With maybe a dash of supernatural. And I spent most of my life writing non-fiction or fantasy. Which is why I’m still a little surprised that my first published novel, Stellarnet Rebel, is science fiction — as is my second, Stellarnet Prince, coming out next month. And I have a third Stellarnet Something WIP. How did that happen? (I’m being sarcastic, but… no, really, how did that happen?)
I’ve had several female readers say, “I don’t usually like science fiction, but I loved Stellarnet Rebel.”
So, here I am wondering what’s up with that — not with my books, specifically, but the genre in general. I’m addressing women, because I have yet to hear a man say, “I don’t like science fiction.” But, if you’re a man, I’d like to hear from you, too.
You tell us: Do you read science fiction – hard, soft, military, cyberpunk, futuristic, apocalyptic, space opera? If not, what turns you off of the genre? And if you do, what are some of your favorite titles and why?
J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series, a regular blogger for Contact-Infinite Futures, and an artist whose work is featured in the books “Steampunk Style Jewelry” and “1000 Steampunk Creations.”
* I know some people use “science fiction” and “sci-fi” interchangeably, while others make a distinction between the two. I’ve also received conflicting information about the abbreviated “SF” — it’s used in place of “science fiction” and also “speculative fiction,” in different circles. I’ve chosen to just use “science fiction” throughout, but you’re welcome to substitute your favorite term, abbreviation or euphemism as you read.