Jan 16

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Coming Out of the Tardis (Pt. 3)

The Tale of a Sci-Fi Soldier

My battle buddies don’t ask, and I don’t tell.  It’s an uncomfortable situation, but it’s worked out so far.  Unfortunately, most people in my unit will never know the “real” me.

Other Soldiers may know that I don’t like to drink Monster energy drinks, but would rather drink tea (well, a tea blend: Silver Yin Zhen with Pear Luna); that I don’t particularly care for Black Hawk Down, or Hurt Locker, but prefer to watch Hayao Miyazaki films and Anime; that I don’t read Sports Illustrated or Maxim, but Sci-Fi short stories and Manga.

Science fiction 2

Image by Glamhag via Flickr

And although I’m surrounded by thousands of other Soldiers (not surprisingly); I often find that I’m, well…lonely.

But why?

After all, I do have the occasional Sci-Fi convention between deployments; and a secret network of friends who share the same “perverse” tastes in fiction that I do.  I know that I’m not alone.  In fact, we science fiction geeks even have our own cable TV channel.

And yet, I can’t shake this uneasy feeling: I’m like a member of some sort of secret society.  With sunglasses, a black suit, and a fedora on my head, I go and meet my fellow colleagues online in virtual worlds, in movie theaters, on college campuses–in secret, and in public.

The Geeks in Black are Back

We are among you.

Some of us look like you.  Some of us act like you.  But we are different…we see beyond the world as it is today, and glimpse visions of a future that may yet come to pass.  Just as some scientists work to discover the physical laws of the universe, we are busy plumbing the depths of the human soul.

Isn’t it deliciously ironic?  Did you know that the Science Fiction I read and write about, has almost nothing to do with science at all–and everything to do with the strange, wonderful, and yet terrifying creatures that read it.

Most people seem to think that science fiction is escapist; akin to romance novels, or commercial block busters.  Like those dog-eared paperbacks you see people reading at the beach on hot summer days.

But, it isn’t.  Science Fiction is the literature of change.

Image via "Ghost Recon: Future Soldier"

I’m a writer of science fiction, but I don’t write to entertain.  I write to change the world.  And hopefully, I will change the world; for the better, one book at a time.

One day–far off in the future–my science fiction will become science fact.  Just like Jules Verne’s submarine; or Captain Kirk’s cell phone; or even that rocket in that black and white film that poked out the moon’s eye.  The things that were just glimmers of science fiction not more than a hundred years ago, are today already being casually accepted as science fact.

I might be ridiculed and under paid for my fiction.  I may find my work marginalized (just because a publisher slaps a genre label on it) and book stores will decide to hide it in a dark and distant corner of their store.  I will not let these setbacks perturb me.

And if you are a writer of Science Fiction, you shouldn’t let it either.

The Precog Guide Dogs

We are the shepherds of the future.  Our terribly misguided species is relying on us.  We are the only ones that billions of feckless, and misguided sheep will listen to.  Not consciously, or even willingly.  But we can still speak to them, we can whisper to them in their dreams.

We can send them nightmare warnings of what our world may one day become; if we choose to sacrifice freedom for security.  We can send them visions of a world where fact is fiction, and fiction becomes fact.  Where privacy is as rare a commodity as happiness.

Sound familiar?

This television commercial, first aired during...

Apple TV ad from 1984. Image via Wikipedi

I’ve seen this future world.  It scared me shitless more than twenty years ago when I was just a child.  And those visions still haunt me to this very day.  You might even say, I have PTSD from the experience.

I think I owe George Orwell a great debt of gratitude–or possibly, I can never forgive him.  I haven’t decided yet.

When I was in middle school, I was just an ordinary teenager.  And then something strange happened to me.  I was bitten.  No, my last name isn’t Parker, and it wasn’t a radioactive spider: I was bitten by the pages of a book.  A book that had a very strange title, one that had no words.  I was fourteen years old, and the year was 1984.  And that (unlikely as it was) was also the title of the book that changed my life forever.

Our world is sick, and we made it that way.  The medicine humanity needs to take–to cure the world of it’s ills–is a very bitter pill.  One that has terrible side effects.  Sometimes when you imagine new exciting worlds, your life on this planet can become dull, dreary, and tedious.  Instead of encouraging change in people, sometimes it can foster a sense of isolation and apathy.

I know.  It happened to me.

But I’ve finally come to realize–that although it is unfathomably larger on the inside than the outside–a Tardis is still a prison if you never step out of it.  And today is the day that I’ve decided to stop hiding in plain sight.

Image Via College Humor

Yes, you can travel through time–and the distant ends of the universe–meet strange, and sometimes dangerous aliens; experience alternate Earths, with alternate histories; and even try to keep our species from blowing up their planet.  But the Doctor had help.  It isn’t healthy to try to take on a job like that all by yourself.

After all, how many hospitals have only one Doctor?

In the last few months I created a special Facebook page.  I’ve searched, looking for other Doctors–physicians well versed in the curative studies of speculative fiction.

I’ve been looking for the writers who have inspired me.

Writers that have had some of the same visions of the future that I have had.  Writers who have created magic windows to other dimensions; dimensions that I still often frequent in my paperback Tardis.

Are you a Time Lord?

I hope so.

I need Doctors.  Lots of them.  You see, I’m starting a new HMO.  One with no co-pay; except a visit to your local library–or perhaps, your lunch money.

I am Peter Usagi:  A Soldier.  A Geek.  A Writer.  An Otaku.

The people I meet, don’t know me–the real me.  And you don’t either.  But perhaps if you keep reading this blog, that might change.

The Legend of Doctor…Who? What? Why? When? Where?

At the end of the year (with the publication of my story, Legends of Eden) I hope I’ll finally be granted my licence to practice medicine…

[box] “Remember only this thing,” said Badger. “The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put stories in each other’s memory. This is how people care for themselves.” — Crow and Weasel, Barry Lopez[/box]

Together with the help of my fellow Time Lords, I hope to rescue our society–and maybe even our entire world–from the chasm of self-centeredness and apathy we’ve fallen into.  You don’t have to drown in the murky waters of doom and gloom; not if you know how to swim.  Who says the future has to be apocalyptic?

Fiction writing Geeks may be anti-social; they may be weird–and yes, some of them may even be curmudgeons…but I think they are this planet’s best hope for a better and brighter future.

Thanks for your time, and remember: just because you grow up, doesn’t mean you have to turn out the lights on your imagination.  You shouldn’t let a pessimistic Time Lord like Doctor House, predict your future…

-Peter Usagi

[box type=”info”] Are you a writer of speculative Fiction? Are you interested in making the world a better place by becoming a Sci-Fi Doctor? Follow me on twitter: @writing_rabbit or, send me a line on my Facebook page. Are you in the military? Are you also a “geek?” What are your experiences? Type up something in the comment box below…[/box]

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