Not long ago there was an acrimonious discussion online of what constituted “being a fan” of Science Fiction that focused in great measure on what one did or did not read. I started to write a response to that debate but after I read the first part of it I felt. . . sad. I was a bit angry at myself too, annoyed that I was writing some kind of defense for my taste in reading. So I put it aside and went back to reading stories from my staggering pile of books to-be-read. Part of the stack contained several works by the late SF writer Charles Sheffield, who primarily wrote a fusion of hard SF and space opera. He was going to be the focus of a Three Hoarsemen podcast (and you can hear the results of that here) so I dug in and read. While I was able to get through The Compleat McAndrew collection of short stories, I could not finish either The Mind Pool or Between the Strokes of Night. I kept putting them down and picking up other books to read (or even re-read), such as Anne Leckie’s Ancillary Justice (discussed in the podcast), Nick Mamatas’ Love is the Law and Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria. I found myself much more engaged by them, to the point where I realized that, in a way, I was no longer a “fan” of Science Fiction (or SFF), but a literary wanderer roaming widely to find new moments of fantasy to savor and ponder. But I wasn’t just looking for “fantasy” the genre, either as an inversion of SF or an encompassing category, but for writing that challenged the idea of what was real and how we make things real.
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Filed under: The Bellowing Ogre