My brain is in a weird place right now. I’m currently reading The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) by Siva Vaidhyanathan and just finished listening to the audiobook version of M Is for Magic, a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman, and I’ve been on a real Star Wars kick after rewatching the VHS tapes of the original trilogy.
It’s very odd to have the realms of reality, dreams, and speculation all intersecting and intermingling in your head at the same time.
The Googlization of Everything is nonfiction and on the academic side, a “genre” I’ve been exploring a lot lately, particularly if it pertains to the internet. I’m relatively new to the internet, and the speed with which it has taken over everyday life astounds and frightens me. It’s scarier because it’s a tool I use on a daily basis, but I don’t know much about it. It deals with the abstract, the concrete, and makes me think. This is a type of book that I’ve only started reading the past three months. Before that, I read fantasy to the exclusion of almost everything else. It’s also a traditional hardcover book that I need to sit down and physically read with my eyes and hold in my hands.
M Is for Magic is a short story collection created and, in this case, read by Neil Gaiman. Audiobooks are another recent thing for me, even more recent than reading nonfiction. (And if you have never heard Neil Gaiman speak, you do not know what you are missing. I really, really LOVE his voice.) Gaiman’s stories in this collection are mostly fantasy with a dash of horror, but all have that same, dream-like quality that is Gaiman’s trademark. I remember reading Sandman and feeling that this story and world was completely surreal, and yet completely plausible on that realm between sleeping and waking. Listening to M Is for Magic made we want to write short stories, even though I have no talent in that area, and gave me a sense of deep tranquility and desire to create.
Star Wars sits in that weird area between science fiction and fantasy. However, even though I acknowledge that it is not hard sci-fi like Ben Bova’s or Larry Niven’s work, it still fits within the realm of science fiction for me. (Magic = fantasy. Space ships = science fiction. Okay, rather simplistic, but that’s how I divide it.) Science fiction came out of speculative fiction of the early 1900s, and is, in its own way, still speculative. One of the boundaries between sci-fi and fantasy is that sci-fi could happen while fantasy can’t. And, even though so much of the science in Star Wars can’t be explained or rationalized with our own knowledge of science, I still feel like it is possible. Maybe not now, maybe not here, maybe not for such a ridiculously long time that it may as well be never. But Star Wars does claim to be “Long ago in a galaxy far, far away…” so who are we to place a judgement upon its believability? Putting the science aside for a moment, Star Wars still always makes me wonder. What is out there? What is the nature of the Force? Is the Force at work here? Can we live by its tenants? What other races or beings are out there among the stars? Speculative fiction does just that: it speculates, it wonders about what might be out there around the next bend, the next planet, the next solar system.
I suppose this entry may seem rather rambling. I don’t know if I’ve articulated myself very well. I just have this sense of oddness at having these three different genres in three different mediums all swirling around in my mind. And the really odd thing is that I’m switching between them freely, without the usual mental jostling or grinding and switching of gears that normally accompanies such a shift.
Maybe these three disparate things have more in common than at first glance.