28 May 2009

But I don't want to go among mad people

I'm appalled at the precedent the California Supreme Court set Tuesday: That the rights of a minority protected class can be altered or revoked by a simple majority vote.

By upholding Prop. 8 as a valid Constitutional amendment, they basically said that voters can add discrimination and inequality into our State Constitution as long as more than 50 percent of people voting want to.


To make things even more ridiculous, the Justices also ruled that the gay marriages performed before Prop. 8 was passed are still valid.

So, now we have three classes of citizens? Gays who can be married, gays who can't be married and heteros who are free to marry and divorce and commit adultery and fornicate all that they want without any legal restrictions "to protect the sanctity of marriage" because they are in the majority.

Because 51 percent of people who voted last November think gays should not have the right to marriage, that means they get to take the right away from them?! Oh, unless they've already exercised that right. Then they get to keep the privileges and responsibilities related to that right?

Again, I am reduced to a stunned, "What?!"

Substitute "gays" for, say, "Catholics" or "women" or "blacks" or "left-handed". Now substitute "marriage" for "voting" or "driver's license" or "due process" or "free education".

Maybe then you will see how disturbing and wrong this precedent is.

Fundamental rights should not be up for popular vote. Ever. Equality means that everyone is treated equally under the law unless there is an overwhelming reason not to. As soon as we start carving out certain rights for some and not for others, we put all of our rights in danger.

One of the most basic premises of our legal system is that the rights of the minority are not subject to the whims of the majority.

Until this week. When The California Supreme Court said the exact opposite.

I can't believe that people who claim to be in favor of "small government" think that the government should regulate which of it's citizens get to exercise their legal right to enter into a personal contract of their choosing.

How far down the rabbit hole do we need to fall before people realize that they are only hurting themselves by insisting on creating haves and have-nots?

Will you only realize the damage you have done when it is your rights on the chopping block?

"If everybody minded their own business,
the world would go around a great deal faster than it does."
~ The Duchess, Alice in Wonderland

26 May 2009


My grandpa died today.

And even though I knew it was coming,
I'm still hurting.

And even though he lived a long and wonderful life,
I'm still angry.

And even though I'm glad he's no longer in pain,
I'm still selfish and want him here with us.

And even though we spent most of the weekend with him,
I'm still missing him already.

And even though I feel like I should be moving and doing ...
I'm still.

21 May 2009

Moments in a Life Well Lived

"There's a shadow on his x-ray."

In my mind, I can see the photographs that have lined my grandmother's bookshelf for as long as I can remember: My grandfather ... in three-quarter profile, looking impossibly young in his Army uniform ... standing ramrod straight in a simple suit next to his beautiful young bride ... in front of the family car with his two strong boys, his brightly smiling daughter, and his baby girl in his wife's arms ... Standing behind my grandma, his big hands resting on her shoulders, celebrating their 50th anniversary.

"It started in his lungs ... "

I am seven years old and my Grampa is a giant with a booming voice and constant grin. He tells funny stories and teaches us to play card games ... He pulls quarters from behind my ears ... he "sneaks" me extra cookies from grandma's jar ... he sets me on his knee and we shell nuts as we watch Star Trek on the tiny TV in his living room ... He picks me up and dusts me off and sends me back into the game to "show those boys what you can do."

"... but it's spreading."

He's in his overalls and worn work boots, a holster on his hip, straw hat shading his eyes. He's mounting his big red horse, more at home on the farm than he would ever be in a city.

He's in a suit for my wedding day and he tells the whole room how I was an ornery little tomboy and "then she finally got boobs" and shoots me a joyfully wicked grin when I blush to my ears.

"Considering his age and medical history ..."

He's lying in a hospital bed after surgery. He's tired and in pain, but he's still giving the surgeon a hard time and flirting shamelessly with the nurses.

He's sitting in his backyard on a sunny Spring day, smiling as he watches his children's children's children run and scream and play.

"... there's nothing they can do for him."

It's his 80th birthday and he's holding my tiny two-week-old son, smiling so proudly you'd think it was his first child rather than his 10th grandchild. "You done good, Sis," he tells me with a wink.

You too, Grampa.

Thank you.

18 May 2009

Made of Awesome

Checker at Target, looking at the two preschool boys in my cart:
"I bet you boys will have fun with this."

Me: "Uh, yeeaah. The boys. That's who it's for."

Mighty Muggs: Made of 100% Recycled Awesome

(Psst, ScifiDad, They have Boba Fett!!!)

ETA: Ooooh, they have them on Amazon, to. :)

15 May 2009

Nothing to see here

Nothing to see here, today.

Instead, you should go read about my friend Jen's run-in with Ronald McDonald. :D

ETA: You should also go Read DaddyGeekBoy's McRant against The Ronald.

Apparently, it's a bad day in the blog-o-sphere for corporate fast food.

14 May 2009

Who I Am

My blog has identity issues.

I mean, "What's your blog about?" should probably have a more interesting answer than, "I dunno. Stuff I like. Or don't like. Or think about. Or do."

Yeah. Not exactly riveting, eh? Or specific.

So: What is my blog about? Me? Okay ... Who am I?
  • I'm a Mom-Who-Blogs. But I don't think I fit the MommyBlogger profile.
  • I have moments when I think I'm funny. But I don't think anyone is ever going to mistake this for a Humor Blog.
  • I sometimes mention my work, but this is definitely not a professional blog.
  • I like to talk about books and quotes. But this isn't really a Book Blog.
  • I sometimes comment on current events. But this isn't a political blog.
  • I like to share my love of all things geeky pop-culture. But not (I think) in an obsessive sort of way.
  • Some of what I write is probably pretty boring to some people, but I would hope that is not a blog-defining characteristic. :)
Ironically, in my super-secret alter-ego, I'm a public relations professional. My job is all about defining my goal ... identifying my audience ... directing my message .. targeting my communications.

But, here ... in my blog ... I don't have to do that. It's not so much that I'm missing my target as that I've just declined to identify one. As a marketing plan, that's a great big FAIL.

But that's just it. This blog isn't a job. And I don't want it to be. If I start "marketing" my blog ... trying to make it fit some niche definition ... well, that kind of defeats the purpose for me.

I love it when new people find my blog and have something to say about it. I think it's fun "meeting" people, getting feedback, engaging in conversation ... but that's not what drives me. That's not why I'm here. That's not "Who I Am".

Who I Am ... is a writer.

I write because I have to. Because I love to. Because I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't.

I'm lucky enough to get paid to do what I love, but that's not enough.

Don't get me wrong, I love the writing I get paid for. I really do. But, that writing is ... limited. Defined. Bound. Here, I have no restrictions. No rules. This is where I come to write about whatever happens to be on my mind.

I write about what inspires me, confuses me, amuses me, frustrates me, excites me.

I write about what I know, what I think, what I want, what I feel.

I write about what I love.

I write ...

Because I don't know how not to.

And that is Who I Am.

13 May 2009

For Jen

Because they just do not make a Hallmark for this. :)

Promise me that you will blog about your run in with the burger-pushing clown?
Because I'm laughing my ass off right now just thinking about it.

11 May 2009

SF Junkie: Books that Suck

Apparently, vampires are hip again.


Earlier, I shared about my SF addiction and my favorite Kick-Ass-Chicks books of that genre. But I intentionally left out one of my favorite "Guilty Pleasures" - Vampires.*

Love 'em. Can't lay off 'em.

I can't remember my first vampire book (oh, wait, does Bunnicula count?), but I do know that Anne Rice, Bram Stoker and The Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Anne Pierce were among the early ones.

But it was probably Anne Rice more than any other author who really "turned" me (I know. Vamp puns: *groan*) and Lestat is still one of my all-time favorite preternatural characters.

But, I'm a sucker (Oops. did it again.) for anything with fangs. I read (and watch) all kinds of vampire books (and movies and TV shows). Even the cheesy ones. :)

I could write a whole post about the fascinating psychological and cultural aspects of our attraction of vampires (and, knowing me, I probably will eventually), but today I just want to share a few of my favorites.

Astute readers will notice that there is some cross-over between my favorite fang-fiction and my proclivity for Kick-Ass Chicks. :)

Charlaine Harris
Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 1: Dead Until Dark
How much am I hating the fact that I don't get Showtime now that they've made these fabulous books into a TV show? Oh well. The books are still awesome. I just finished #9 Wednesday night. Sookie is a great protagonist and Harris' vamps have a lot of life in them. Harris has several other great series, too. The others are more mysteries than scifi, though one is a bit of both. But the recurring theme in them all is strong women protagonists. I pretty much love everything she's ever written.

Laurell K. Hamilton
Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 1: Guilty Pleasures
I really loved the first ten or so books in the Anita Blake series. Unfortunately, the last few books have been really disappointing to me as Hamilton basically turned them into erotica. I mean, I don't mind a little romance or a few steamy sex scenes, but they should support the story, not supplant it. But, again, the first ten or so? Awesome.

I should also mention Hamilton's Merry Gentry Series (A Kiss of Shadows, Book 1). They're about fairies rather than vamps. I love Merry as a character and I love the stories - especially the way they touch on Celtic and English mythologies. But, again, the copious, gratuitous, graphic sex tends to be - to me - more distracting than enhancing. Still, I keep reading them. So, there must be something good there. :)

In the most recent Merry and Anita books I've read, I noticed that there was a little less sex and a little more plot. So, I'm hoping that maybe these books are heading for a return to their previous greatness. We'll see.

MaryJanice Davidson
Queen Betsy, Book 1: Undead and Unwed
These books make me laugh out loud. Really. Davidson has a talent for telling a great story without taking herself too seriously. Betsy is a reluctant vampire queen more addicted to shoe shopping than blood. She is hilarious and every book is an irreverent romp. For the record, I like Davidson's non-vampire books, too.

Nancy A. CollinsMidnight Blue: Sonja Blue Collection
This is an great trilogy that doesn't get the attention it deserves. Probably because it's darker and more violent than most modern vampire stories. Readers looking to pick up the latest Twilight-style paranormal romance would probably suffer serious culture shock with the Sonja Blue stories. It's gritty, violent, gory vampire-punk. These vampires don't woo teen girls. They just eat them.

Geek side-note: It's published by White Wolf. If you know who they are, you know what that means. If you don't, then don't worry about it.

Anne RiceThe Vampire Chronicles
Again, no list of vampire books could possibly be complete without Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. I mentioned earlier that she was pivotal in drawing me into the genre. I liked Interview with a Vampire. But I was completely hooked by The Vampire Lestat. I adore Lestat. These were among my first "adult" vampire stories and my first introduction to the blood-sex-life-death themes in vampire stories.

I've read lots of other vampire books and books-with-vampires, of course. Some that were good. And some that were not so good. But these are my favorites. The ones with ... bite. (Oh gawd, I really can't stop myself, now.)

You'll notice Twilight is conspicuously absent from the list. My sister-in-law did give me the first book for Christmas. But I haven't read it yet.

To be honest, I'm a little afraid to. They seem to be the kind of books that suck (Oh hell, will someone just stake me and get it over with?) people in. And I have a tendency to get just a teesny bit ... rabidly obsessed(?) over a really good series. But I suppose I'll get to it eventually.

So ... what're your favorite vampire books? Anything I should add to my must-read list?

*I mentioned a few other books with vampires in my Kick-Ass-Chicks post, too. But vampires aren't the focus of those books, thus the distinction.

08 May 2009

On chivalry and broken bones

- I have to warn you, I've heard relationships
based on intense experiences never work.

- OK. We'll have to base it on sex then.

- Whatever you say, ma'am.

~ Speed

I'm a klutz. This is an established fact.

Born that way. Probably gonna die that way ... Literally.

The other day, I told someone that I was the only person I know who could end up in the Emergency Room on a date ... three times.

But, really, two of them were totally not my fault. And one of them was not even my injury, so I'm not sure it even counts ...

Disastrous Date #1

My best friend introduced me to a guy she went to high school with and he asked me out for a casual "bite to eat" kind of thing. First date, right? So, he acts the gentleman and comes around to open the car door for me ... and proceeds to slam my hand in his car door.


I ended up losing most of the nail on that thumb and still have a small scar to remember it by. But the highlight of the evening had to be when my date proceeded to FAINT at the sight of my bloody hand. Seriously. He made it about 10 steps away from the car before he went a little pale and pitched over - hitting his head on the glass doors of the restaurant.

So, I'm standing there holding my bloody hand and staring down at my date's still body, thinking, "Hmph. That's not good." and kind of hoping this isn't going to end up being my "How I Met Your Grandfather" story.

Fortunately, my date came-to rather quickly and was quite chivalrous about my wound. (You'd think he would have learned. I mean, chivalry was what got us into this mess in the first place.)

For the record, I didn't actually have to go to the ER that night. Because my roommate was well versed in first aid and he bandaged me up nicely. (He was all excited he got to use his mad medical skills. As long as I promised not to bleed on him. Dork.)

I went to my regular doctor the next day to make sure nothing was broken. All my little hand bones were okay, but I still was kind of handicapped for a while. Couldn't even manage the button on my pants.

Which was no big deal. 'Cuz there was no second date. ;)

Disastrous Date #2

This one did end in the ER, but I wasn't the injured party for a change.

I was working as a waitress* and I had a little crush on one of the sweet, hunky Bus Boys. So, when another co-worker invited a bunch of us over for a movie night, I thought, "Cool. A chance to get to know him outside of work."

I knew the rest of his family, too. So I wasn't surprised to see his (just as sweet) Older Brother there, and we all had a really nice night. At the end of the evening, I offered to play designated driver for two inebriated gal pals and the Sweet Brothers decided to walk us all out to my car.

As we were crossing the parking lot, a truck came roaring around the corner and almost ran me down. The driver swerved into a nearby parking spot, his passenger grabbed the 12-pack of Coors Light out of the bed of the truck, and they swaggered toward a nearby apartment.

Well, my chivalrous (are you seeing a pattern here?) Bus Boy took umbrage at my near-death experience and hollered something manly like "Slow down, you idiot."

And all hell broke loose.

The two drunks and two more of their friends from inside the apartment came out swinging for Bus Boy. Older Brother tried to break it up and he ended up getting knocked down and hitting his head - hard - on the curbing. The drunken idiots had enough sense to run off when they saw our friend bleeding on the sidewalk. But not too much sense - because they ran into their own apartment. Which I was happy to point out to the cops before following the ambulance with Older Brother to the ER.

He ended up with a concussion, poor guy. But, he was okay. And the drunken assholes who hit him were prosecuted, I'm glad to report.

But I'm sorry to report that I never did have a real date with Cute Bus Boy.

(*You know you totally have that song in your head now.)

Disastrous Date #3

This one was a second date. I blogged a little bit about it once before ...

He surprised me by taking me to local "haunted forest" attraction where people in spooky costumes jump out at you randomly. Little did he know that having spooky things jump out at me is pretty high on my least-favorite-things list.

So, I got a death grip on his arm, pressed myself up against him so tight you couldn't see light between us (hmmm, that was probably part of his plan, eh?), clenched my teeth and braved the spooky.

About halfway through the "forest", a werewolf jumps out of a bush right next to me. I scream, jump backwards, trip over a root ... and hear an ominous snapping sound as I hit the ground.

They carried me out of the forest, whisked me off in an ambulance to the nearest emergency room, and declared that I had a broken ankle. Ouch.

I never did see the rest of the haunted forest. But they sent me a t-shirt that said "I survived the [redacted] Haunted Forest". (Later, I corrected it by adding "barely" in Sharpie.) Also, the werewolf came to visit me at the emergency room. I thought that was sweet. :)

Again, my date got the chance to play chivalrous (See, I told you there was a pattern.) as he filled my pain prescription, took me home, tucked me into my bed and even watched some Disney movies with me.

Unlike the others, there was a third date after this one.

But that's another story ...

07 May 2009

Attack of the Killer Ants

Ok, so, they're not 20 feet tall.

Or radioactive.

Or even killers.

But they are definitely on the attack. And they are effing annoying!

We've been having border skirmishes with this drone army for a while now. But yesterday, hostilities escalated when the enemy executed a blitz attack.

The recon team must have slipped through our defenses earlier in the week. Because they knew just where to hit us - marching unerringly and with mindless determination for our weakest spots.

They came at us in three fronts - dining room, living room and kitchen. A tactic surely designed to cause panic and division of resources.

But our wily Master Chief (aka The ZenHusband) was not to be outdone. He didn't mess around. He went straight for the Big Guns - the dual tactics of chemical warfare and WMDs to send those enemy combatants to that great Colony in the sky.

I left most of the actual combat to the Master Chief and focused on rallying the troops and keeping the supply lines running.

It was a long and ugly battle and - I'm not gonna lie to you - there were moments when I thought we might not prevail.

But, we finally cleared away the last of the invading horde and had the satisfaction of knowing we had successfully defended our territory.

But this was just one battle - not the war. And I don't think we've seen the last of this army. They are a single-minded, hearty and they have the advantage of numbers. Fortunately, we have the advantage of opposable thumbs. Well, that, and being about 10,000 times bigger.

But still, it may be time to call in reinforcements.

06 May 2009

SciFi Junkie: Kick-Ass Chicks

The other day, I wrote about science fiction and fantasy as great literature.
This is not about that.
Today, I want to share some of my recent favorite light and fun (and girlie?) scifi reads.

Lately - without really consciously deciding to - I've been reading a lot of scifi with a similar theme: Kick-ass chicks, or, if you like the more PC version: Strong Women Characters.

Surprisingly (to me, anyway), most of these books fall under the general category of "paranormal suspense" or "paranormal romance" ... since I've never been a fan of romance novels in general, it kind of took me by surprise how much I enjoy these books.

But, it turns out that if you take a kick-ass heroine, throw in a smattering of romance, and mix liberally with some shapeshifters, blood-suckers, spaceships or sidhe ... I'm all over it like zombies at a brain buffet.

Who knew? ;)

So: What makes a kick-ass heroine?

She doesn't have to literally kick-ass. (And if she does, it should be realistic ass-kicking, please. I mean, if she doesn't have super-human abilities, then don't expect me to believe that a 5'6, medium-build woman in heels can take on a pack of lycans and walk away with a token cut-and-bruise, no matter how many times a week she works out at the dojo down the street, thank-you-very-much.)

She does need to be tough, independent, talented at something, smart, witty - snarky can be fun, too. As long as it's not over the top. On the other hand, she needs weaknesses - some quirks or traits or personality flaws that make her realistic, maybe a little vulnerable - and a little easier to relate to. An interesting supporting cast of friends and enemies as literary foils never hurts, either.

I also tend to like my protagonists with a bit of dark to them. I mean, come on, Catwoman is way more interesting than Diana Prince, right?

Hmmm. Maybe it will be easier to just share my recent favorite books/characters of this genre ...

Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels series
Magic Bites - Magic Burns - Magic Strikes
I just finished the third book in this series and I can't wait for the next. Kate is a great heroine and I love the premise of the magic-tech balance in this unique world. It's nice to find there's still a new, creative way to spin magic, weres and vamps. Especially the vamps. Kate is one of the literal ass-kickers - she carries a sword and knows how to use it - but in a realistic kind of way (within the parameters of the world). She also has a really interesting background and psychology, which we get to see more of as she begins to examine them for herself.

Patricia BriggsMercy Thompson series
Moon Called - Blood Bound - Iron Kissed - Bone Crossed
These books have all the elements of your standard shapeshifter-urban fantasy ... but they're way better. Mercy is a great mix of tough and yet vulnerable, independent and yet with strong sense of responsibility. I also particularly enjoy the European mythologies that are so deftly woven into her world.

Laura Ann Gilman
Retrievers series
Staying Dead (Retrievers, Book 1)
Gilman has created a really interesting alt-verse here as well as several unique characters, including the protagonist, Wren. She's something of a "one-who-doesn't-know-her-own-worth" heroine. I'm really looking forward to Book 6: Blood from Stone.

Kim Harrison
The Hollows series
Dead Witch Walking - The Good, The Bad and the Undead - Every Which Way but Dead - A Fistful of Charms - For a Few Demons More - The Outlaw Demon Wails - White Witch, Black Curse
I love this urban fantasy series. Rachel Morgan is tough and cool enough to carry the realistic danger and intrigue in these plots, but also just screwed up enough to make the books funny, too. That's a tough mix to write. Kudos to Harrison for pulling it off. There's also a whole ensemble cast of interesting supporting characters. Including Jinx, my favorite pixie ever. Plus, you gotta love the titles.

Linnea Sinclair
Finders Keepers - Games of Command - An Accidental Goddess,
The Down Home Zombie Blues - Gabriel's Ghost, etc.
Most of these are stand-alones. They are quick and fun reads with original plots. Her heroines are quirky and tough. The heroes are also more fully realized and interesting than the 1-D kind found in some other "scifi romance".

Ann AguirreSirantha Jax series & Corine Solomon series
I picked up Grimspace (Sirantha Jax 1) about a month ago on a whim. I enjoyed the fast pace and unexpected twists, so I ordered the sequel, Wanderlust. I thought it was even better than the first in terms of structure and plot and pacing. And I still like Jax a lot. So, I just finished her newest book, Blue Diablo, the first in the Solomon series. So, far, Aguirre reminds me a bit of Sinclair. And I think her writing is getting better with each book. I'm looking forward to reading more.

Carrie Vaughn
Kitty the Werewolf series
Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Book 1)
Yeah, it's about a werewolf named Kitty. And yes, it has a sense of humor about that. But Kitty is also a smart, snarky, fun character. Every book has managed to surprise me just a little bit - to take my expectations and twist them just ever so slightly in a new direction. I've just ordered books 5 and 6 and I'm looking forward to seeing where they go.

Kelley Armstrong
Women of the Otherword series & Nadia Stafford series
Bitten, Stolen (Women of the Otherworld 1 and 2)
I've only read the first two Otherworld books, but I liked them both. Tough women, interesting plots. These aren't the tip-top of my favorites list, but they are good, interesting reads and I plan to pick up more to see if the rest are as good or better. :)

I also have to mention Armstrong's new Nadia Stafford series: Exit Strategy and Made to be Broken. Not a hint of scifi to be found, here. But awesome books. Nadia is a hitman (hitwoman?) - a killer for hire. With a conscious, of course. These books flirt with psychological darkness and come across almost like hard-boiled detective novel meets paranormal romance ... but, again, without any actual paranormal. Does that make sense? Well, anyway. I picked up Made to be Broken Saturday at the library and read it all in on sitting Sunday night after putting the kids to bed. Couldn't put it down.

Esther FreisnerChicks in Chainmail anthologies
If I'm going to talk about kick-ass chicks books, I have to mention these short-stories. Fast, funny reads.

Debra Doyle and James McDonald
Mageworlds Series
The Price of the Stars: Mageworlds Book 1
This is an excellent space opera series. It's been several years since I first read these books, but the plot was so original and the characters were interesting. They stuck with me for a long time. I'm planning a re-read soon. Hope it's a as good as I remember. :)

* This is where we start to move away from the "lighter" end of things ...

Stephen R. Donaldson
Mordant's Need Series: The Mirror of Her Dreams- A Man Rides Through
The Gap Series: The Real Story (Book 1)
These books don't quite fit with the rest above. For one thing, I didn't read these "recently". In fact, it's probably been 20 years since I first read the Mordant's Need books and more than 10 since I read The Gap Series. But they stuck with me. And I think that says something. Both series are also a lot ... deeper ... than the ones above. Mordant's Need was a great fantasy epic and I've read them several times. And plan to read them again. Ironically, I haven't re-read the Gap Series. And I'm not sure I will. It was great. But it was ... intense. Definitely a lot darker and more layered than anything else on this list.

David Weber
Honor Harrington series
On Basilisk Station
These books also don't quite fit with the others above as there is very little romance in them. But, it would be impossible for me to make a list of kick-ass heroines without mentioning Honor Harrington. Some people call this series "Horatio Hornblower in space". That's not a bad description. It's more of a military SF series ... but what sets it apart is the character of Honor. She is simultaneously archetypal and unique. And she totally kicks ass six ways from Sunday. Love her.

So, what have you been reading for pleasure lately? Any recommendations for my reading pile? :)

Next time: Vampire Books. Because that list really needs it's own post. :)

05 May 2009

Size matters

This is my new teeny-tiny work toy:

Yes, that is a writing pen next to it.
And a Post It note.
(And an Itty Bitty Buddha. But he's more for fun than size reference.)

Yeah, it really is that small.

And So. Very. Cool.

I've named it TicTac.

What? Like you don't name your geek gear?

04 May 2009

Confessions of a SciFi Junkie

I'm a science fiction junkie: Space opera, superheroes, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, cyberpunk ... my shelves runneth over.

I sometimes refer to it as my "guilty" pleasure.

Because, for some reason, the literati tend to look down their collective noses at science fiction and fantasy.

There's this myth-perception of "pop fiction" as the brain candy of the huddled, unwashed masses - compared to the lobster-caviar-fine wine "literature" of the Academe.


I have been a voracious reader my entire life. I can't remember ever not reading scifi of one kind or another. I was hooked before I even knew there was a name for it.

It started with the classic fairy tales, of course - before I could even read them to myself. And some of my earliest book-related memories are of my mom helping me to read Little Witch at bedtime ... about 100 times. And of wanting to be Pippi Longstocking.

By third grade, I was already scouring my tiny school's tiny library for its meager children's fantasy offerings ... Bunnicula, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, A Wrinkle in Time, and, of course, The Chronicles of Narnia, which I read so many times that my first set started to fall apart. (Tangent: I named my childhood horse Bree-hee-hinny-brinny-hooey-ha. Yeah, I was a nerd way before it was cool.)

By the time I discovered The Lord of the Rings, I was well and truly addicted. And I was on a first name basis with our town librarian.

I can't even remember the number of times my parents came into my room at night to tell me to put-down-that-book-and-go-to-sleep. (That hasn't really changed. It's just that now it's my husband saying "Honey, are you ever going to put down that book and go to sleep?")

In junior high and high school, when other girls were swooning over Harlequin heroes, Teen Beat hearthrobs, and the latest boy-band du jour ... I lived on a steady diet of space adventures, sword and sorcery and the supernatural. With a side dish of a mystery or two.

Of course, I also read - and enjoyed! - all of the standard American and English literature served up in modern American high schools. I loved those, too. (Well, except Moby Dick. That was boring as hell. And I still have terrible flashbacks of that giant biography of Henry Miller that killed several dozens of my little gray cells. That might be the only book in my whole life that I never finished reading. And I have no regrets on that.)

As an English minor (just a few credits short of another bachelor's degree, actually) I spent a lot of time in my college years reading even more "literature" - everything from Byron to the Bronte sisters and Twain to Steinbeck and Greek tragedies to Shakespeare.

But, one of my favorite college courses was my "Popular Fiction" class, where I got to read and write about some of my favorite genre fiction books for credit! Yay!

And I was left wondering why we make such a distinction between "pop fiction" and "literature". I mean why is To Kill a Mocking Bird inherently more worthy of academic study than, say, Harry Potter?

I don't see a distinction in terms of the quality of the writing, themes, symbolism, etc.

Why does SF get such a bad rap?

Yes, I sometimes refer to it as my "guilty pleasure" or "brain candy" ... but, the truth is, the best scifi can hold it's own against "real" literature any day. And most of the smartest people I know read scifi.

Asimov, Bradbury, Wells, Verne, Heinlein, Orwell, Tolkien ... these guys were no literary lightweights. And don't forget Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker. They may have been one-hit wonders, but, damn, what a hit.

More recently, you've got amazingly talented storytellers like Douglas Adams, William Gibson, Spider Robinson, Anne Rice, Anne McCaffrey, Dean Koontz, Phillip K. Dick, Neil Gaiman, David Weber, JK Rowling ... the list goes ever, ever on. ;)

These books are denied a place in the canon of literature, but the irony is that scifi has, arguably, had a greater impact on our culture than any other genre.

That's not to say that all scifi is deep and meaningful. It's not. I enjoy the lighter stuff, too. A lot.

But more on that next time ...