Thursday, 21 October 2010
Today the Borealis authors talk about what's inspired their sci-fi. Enjoy!
GAIL R. DELANY
My greatest science fiction influences were my first influences. When I was in elementary school, Star Trek was in syndication and an episode ran every day at four. I would watch the clock all the way home on the bus, jump out of my seat and run up my driveway just to make sure I got home in time. I kept a Captain's Log, just like Captain Kirk. And by far, Mr. Spock was my favorite Starfleet officer. Something about him "fascinated" me (Trekkies will get that. LOL), and it wasn't until years later that it was his pure sarcasm that drew me. Yes, Mr. Spock is frelling hilarious (a mix of sci fi fandoms there, but I don't care!) if you speak sarcasm as fluently as I do.
My other great science fiction influence was the Star Wars movies. Star Wars: A New Hope was released when I was in elementary school, but I never saw it until it was released on VHS. On the last day of school in fourth grade, my teacher wheeled in the big television cart and played Star Wars. I freely admit that my interest in Star Wars also stemmed from the itty bitty crush I had on Peter Cummings, a boy in my class who loved Star Wars. ☺ The first time I watched it, I may have been looking for Peter's attention, but once I saw it... I was hooked. My crush switched from Peter Cummings to Han Solo.
As I got older, I was up for watching just about anything science fiction. In junior high, one of my friends told me I should watch Doctor Who on PBS. Instead of rushing home Monday through Friday to watch Star Trek, now I watched Doctor Who on Sunday afternoons.
All three influences are with me still today.
Wow. It's been so long since I've read anything that I need to have a moment to think! Let's see. Harlan Ellison was a big influence or maybe just the most memorable, lol! Poul Anderson, Michael Crichton was a biggie and of course the biggest of them all for me – Ray Bradbury whom I've had the pleasure to meet twice. I've also found a writer and book that I really like, Ann Benson's "The Plague Tales". She has superb logic to her technology and makes the images come alive. The book was published in 1997 but I've only acquired it in the last four or five years. I think most of these authors (excepting Anderson) really write what I like and that's 'near future' science fiction. Of course a space station or two doesn’t hurt (I'm thinking of you Borealis, lol!) as long as we retain our humanity in it. I've read things that remove people from being people and that is just uninteresting to me. Oh, yeah and I've read a couple of Star Wars anthologies (there it is again!) which were great and some of them actually hilarious intentionally. One of the stories used anthropomorphism to give a robot (android) bounty hunter a point of view and human-like reactions which was difficult to pull successfully but the author did and I think I remember a Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk outwitted an android precisely because he did not do the logical thing, but the illogical and most especially unpredictable (to the android) that humans are capable of due to the fact we don't have a set of carved in circuitry with only prime objectives (oh yeah Robocop). In other words we can deviate from the programming that machines cannot. That makes good sci-fi.
I think my influences started with reading novels based on the shows and movies I loved. Namely, Star Wars and Star Trek. It always goes back to Star Wars doesn't it? Whatever the case, from those fevered continuations, I discovered real SciFi. The first two authors and their works that I can remember having an impact on me were Anne McCaffrey's Pern series and Christopher Stasheff's Warlock books. The blend of fantasy and SciFi just amazed me. Before them, I didn't know you could have two things in one book, but McCaffrey and Stasheff did it so well you couldn't help but be drawn in by it. As I grew older, I discovered Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven and a host of other authors that did more than introduce me to new worlds. They opened my mind to thinking. To me that is the heart of a good book, it forces you to access what you know and consider all the possibilities that could unfold. Those authors gave that to me.
But, my two greatest influences in Sci Fi were Robert Asprin and Douglas Addams. If you've never read these two amazing authors shame on you. They were the first to teach me a valuable lesson. Science Fiction could be funny. The minute a friend dumped Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe into my lap, my brain was forever perverted to the funny side. I found Asprin earlier with his Myth Adventures, but he jumped into Sci Fi with a small tome by the name of Phule's Company. Yes, I posted the titles so you could run out and check them out. Really, you should check out all the authors I jotted down. They are amazing and not to sound threatening but if you don't, I've got a werewolf and a vampire slayer on the payroll. Do you really want them showing up with Conan the Librarian to make you? I thought not.