For a time in my life, I gave up reading science fiction.
This is a big thing. I would read literally ten books a week as a kid. I would walk or bicycle 20 minutes to the library and come back with more books than I could carry. I mean this literally; I’d break the handles of the plastic bags they would put them in. I read voraciously and widely, but then I stopped.
The reason why has two parts. The first part is that I simply couldn’t believe in the futures that were presented to me any more. I remember Snow Crash being the book that made me realize this.
In Snow Crash, there was a chapter about the owner of a Young Mafia franchise, and it was heartbreaking in how the poor guy was trapped. It made all the fun times about the idiot protagonist and Y.T. and lol Alaskan glass knife guy villain look silly. I realized that I couldn’t love a future that gave power to the cool rule-breaking kids while making it hell for everyone else. And a lot of SF does this; the great man is perceived as being better compared to petty bureaucrats, and gets freedom to do a bunch of cleverly immoral things like have lots of sex and do drugs. But these are so false; they are fantasies of an adolescent mind that wants to be free from rules and do what they want costs be damned.
The second part was realizing that I am a villain.
What’s the worst thing you can be in a SF book? A fundamentalist.
I am a fundamentalist.
Therefore, to the books I read, I am a villain.
I think Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars books were when I realized this. It was then that I started noticing how beleaguered my belief system was in SF. We were always the anti-science villains who had to be defeated. Maybe if the author was generous we could be converted to TEH LOVE OF SCIENCE!!! but usually we get killed. Hard. There is a joke if you play Japanese RPGS that if you ever see a church, you better assume that the head of it is a bad guy or age old-evil, and you get the same sense in SF after awhile.
I think this realization transformed me in a way that still has profound consequences now.
I find I can’t connect to a lot of mainstream geek culture because of this. These are the people who use fundamentalists as villains. Why should I listen to you any more? You get fundamentalists wrong, and I should care about your worlds when I’m not and never will be a part of them? With SF now I can hold this in abeyance to a certain level, but the days where I would read atheistic SF novels without batting an eyelash are gone forever. But there’s more.
If you’re a villain, you don’t care about the “good” people.
In fact, (a point hammered to me by those same SF books) a “good” person often isn’t. I just did a triple twist. They wanted me to think that good was bad, but I went around to good being bad being good. To realize that no, the “good” secular culture really is bad, and should be fought or at the least be wary of. They see me as an enemy? Well I am one, but because they made me it. Not because I live up to their lies.
I think you can explain a lot about me by this. Why I’m so contrarian, for one. Why I isolate myself. To a Christian, the world is an enemy. We “know” it, but what happens when you go beyond and know it? When you realize to truly hold the faith, you become an enemy to people? I don’t mean living up to the caricature, but just by believing. It’s a lonely realization that you can’t fit in, that the illusion of the world you had is gone. That you can’t talk about the same things with others without reservation, or that books will rarely ever tell your story, but those of people who hope you and what you believe disappears; that’s something that’s hard to take.
I think this is why its so important to have Christian SF. A place where we aren’t villains, and aren’t hidden either. Where we can see our own faces outside of the dirty mirror of secular SF. But sadly it seems not many people care about it. I’m not sure how to feel about that. It’s getting better, but it used to be that Christian SF fans were double villains. Damned for believing in Christ, damned for liking godless fantasy or accused of opening up doors to Satan. Fitting in nowhere.
I don’t know though. Maybe this is Christianity; to be always seen as the villain for holding the truth. It gets hard at times, though.