Saturday, April 10, 2004

Rock Golems or Robots?

Sorry for the long delay, folks, but I hope you'll enjoy my latest offering.

What draws us to either science fiction or fantasy? I have an interesting take on this question because I'm observing its development in my own home. I grew up fascinated with Heinlein and Arthur C. Clark as well as Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey. Despite my sister's efforts, I kept steady for years until MZB wrote a series of books with a talented author, Mercedes Lackey. I then went to find her books and they were fantasy. This started my slip into becoming the generalist I am today.

Fast forward to my maturing children. I have one who loves all things fantasy. He enjoys creating fantasy stories, is absorbed by Dungeons and Dragons, and cheerfully edits anything I write with a fantasy theme. My other wants science fiction and little else. He grudgingly read Harry Potter and prefers Animorphs, though the science there is questionable at best. He rarely reads my fantasy and begs me to write more science fiction stories, preferably with heavy, deadly machinery.

While it's obvious they made their choices, for now at least, I find it interesting how these choices show up in other areas. My sf son confronted me about the Tooth Fairy, asking not if she exists but why we pretend she does. He finally agreed to go along with the tradition to get his quarters but made sure I know he knows it's all bunk. In comparison, his brother never questioned the Tooth Fairy. Whatever he might believe, he's willing to accept a world imbued with mystical forces beyond our comprehension that make the mundane world a little more fascinating.

So then, is the preference of science fiction over fantasy a sign of grounding in the physical reality where things are defined by what you see and touch? Does a leaning toward fantasy show up in those more open to an indefinable world overlaying the physical one? And what about those like myself who enjoy both paths?

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