Jul 11

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Coming out…of the Tardis (Part One)

The current TARDIS seen at BBC TV Centre and t...

Geeks check in, but they don't check out...

The Following Face Book Post Inspired Me To Write My Very First Post…

I’m re-posting the Face Book thread, so you have an idea what exactly got me writing (I hope the original authors don’t mind). This post started out as a simple Face Book comment; unfortunately–or vice-versa, if you actually liked reading this–Face Book isn’t a blog; and I found that I very quickly ran out of room. So I decided to post my thoughts here…

Pat Cadigan: Finished reading The Passage by Justin Cronin and wonders if anyone is going to tell him he’s a science fiction writer.

Johanna Vainikainen-Uusitalo: More than ten years ago Phil Pullman was GoH in/at Finncon. He told us about the writing process of The Amber Spyglass and we told him he was writing science fiction. He appeared surprised 🙂
Gardner Dozois: Not since he’d make a lot less money that way.


As a SF writer, I find myself struggling with a very difficult decision: should I come out of the closet with my first novel…and call it Science Fiction?

Never mind the pay difference, Mr. Dozois mentioned. I’m not writing fiction to become wealthy (I’m weird, not delusional).

I write, because I actually enjoy doing it… (Yes, I warned you I was weird.)

However, it never ceases to amaze me: whenever people eventually find out that I do write Sci-Fi, I always get the feeling they think I’m dirty; unworthy of calling myself a writer. As if the fiction I write wasn’t just trash; not fit to be read–but as if I was creating some kind of illicit contraband; something they would be embarrassed just to be seen reading…

I haven’t read, The Passage. So I don’t know if, in fact, it is SF. But I’m not going to call Cronin out on it–even if it is. I don’t like genres. I find them just as artificial as labeling certain literature as “cannon.”

I think a writer should have the option of labeling their book; or not labeling it at all.

Sure, I understand the necessity for genres; from a commercial standpoint. But just like some music stubbornly defies classification–most good fiction, I think, does as well.

I don’t want my fiction to be labeled: “this,” or “that.” And then treated as if it were a second class citizen–discriminated against, just because the “magic” in it…is actually based on science.

Why is it, “literature,” only seems to exist in books set in “the real world,” and yet, they are always chock full of fictional characters? If you’re going to let a writer take liberties with characters; why be so judgmental when they take liberties with anything else?

I know it’s not really a fair comparison; but sometimes I feel SFphobes can be just as belligerent, and even as violently oppressive; as homophobes.

I don’t know why. And it seems trivial; but sometimes I feel victimized…and even sometimes, ashamed.

Only, I don’t have a rainbow flag to proudly slap on my bumper; or parades, and marches to help me feel like I’m actually, a normal human being. I don’t have federal laws protecting me from discrimination. And, in fact, unlike some homosexuals; I’m not proud of my terrible (and secret) reading, and writing preferences.

Yes, secret…

Although I myself am posting a very public outcry, against people who unfairly treat those who write, and read, Science Fiction; I’m afraid I’m just as guilty of the same kind of discrimination.

Am I a hypocrite?

Perhaps…but I wish I didn’t have to be one.

Surrounded by my peers–men and women in camouflage uniforms–I find that I often feel guilty when people see me reading the latest SF anthology from Gardner Dozois. I furtively hide it under my desk when I read it; and pretend like there was nothing else I could find to read, when my comrades ask me: “what the heck is that?” Knowing full well, the huge investment of time, money, and effort it took to get the book out here in the first place.

You see, while some of the bases out here now have Burger Kings, and Taco Bells; you still can’t find a Barns and Noble–not in a war zone.

But why hide it in the first place?

Well, I feel…embarrassed.

“But, why?” you ask. “Who cares?”

The Army cares…



My name is Peter Usagi.

I’m an American Otaku in Baghdad.

My kung-fu is strong; and my science-fiction is going to save the world.

Please be patient, while I finish writing it…

Permanent link to this article: http://peterusagi.com/2010/07/11/coming-out-of-the-tardis-part-one/

1 comment

  1. Ryan K.

    Pete, it sounds like you're spending too much time worrying about what other people think. Don't get yourself so worked up about being a SciFi author! But hey, if it does bug you that much, you could just as easily classify your fiction as Urban Fantasy. Granted, it's a subgenre of SciFi but still, it isn't a bad thing.

    First of all, SciFi writers are the coolest writers out there. It's scientific fact. Why do I know this? Because it's SCIENCE fiction, and it's only logical science is on our side with this one. Yeah, we write about the near future, alternate realities, space, the mole people, zombies, vampires, the apocalypse and everything in between. We write about those things because they entertain us and the good people who read them. If some writers and readers want to behave like they're Rockefeller passing through the slums, then fuck them and their ivory canes. In the end, we all write fiction. We all make up fake people in our heads, put them in fake realities, give them fake motivations and make them do fake things to advance the plot.

    We're all a bunch of kids who never forgot how to use our imaginations. So when somebody comes up to me, hears my idea for a story about a gay coyote-human hybrid and says "That's stupid," I file that comment away in the same trash can I put Brandon Schmidt's "That's stupid" twenty years ago. I say, it's a matter of taste. If you don't like the taste, don't eat it.

    What you need to do, Pete, is pick up some classic science fiction. Try Isaac Asimov's "Pebble in the Sky" from 1950. Great stuff. Get to know your roots as a SciFi author!

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