So a couple of news anchors apparently lost it a bit the other day about Star Wars hype. And, I mean, okay, selling out tickets for December in eighteen seconds is a bit crazy. But I have absolutely no tolerance for people who make fun of sci-fi and fantasy, and even less patience for those who make fun of those who consume it. Sure, yes, I write superhero fantasy/sci-fi books. I've got a pony in the race, so to speak. But I also table at comic cons and I talk with fans and I know how smart and how happy and how healthy they are, and I find people who cannot understand fandom to be incredibly frustrating. But rather than explain my own frustrations, I want to quote the amazing Mr. Neil Gaiman talking about when he was invited to a science fiction conference in China:
"I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?
"It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.
"Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.
"And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it’s a bad thing. As if “escapist” fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in."
Science fiction is important. Creativity is important. Passion is important and imagination is bloody important. So if you run into someone who can't understand fandom... you've probably run into someone who is a little short on imagination. Maybe they should watch Star Wars and let their minds go a bit.
Matthew Phillion is the writer of "The Indestructibles," part-time actor, occasional filmmaker. Currently on the lam in Salem with his trusty dog, Watson.