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How science fiction taught me to appreciate historical fiction

Crying robot.
Crying robot.

Crying robot.

A fun fact about me: I have a background in history. Sorta. I feel weird saying that, but it’s true: I do, after all, have a BA in history. So while I don’t now nor do I plan on perusing a career in history, there is a certain level of comfort with the study of history there.

For a long time, I looked down on the genre of historical fiction and those who enjoyed it. I’m not proud of that fact, but there it is. “If you’re interested in this person or event, why don’t you just read a biography instead?” I reasoned. Part of my distain for historical fiction stemmed from the people who were convinced that historical fiction was almost entirely historical fact, save a few minor details. I thought I was smarter because I “knew better.” I knew that within historical fiction, there’s a range. Some is fairly historically accurate, while others is more fiction than anything else.

But then I discovered science fiction. I’m what I like to call “science stupid.” For the most part, science was not my strongest subject in school (though part of that can be attributed to teachers who were convinced that I was stupid and wanted me to fail). Reading straight up non-fiction about a scientific subject still feels like a very scary task. But science fiction manages to make things seem less daunting. The fiction in science fiction made the subject much more palpable for someone like me who doesn’t have a strong scientific foundation. Do I expect all science fiction to be 100% factually accurate? Of course not. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some science fiction is more factually accurate than others. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are scientists out there who spend time nit picking various aspects of science fiction. For me, however, science fiction feels like a less daunting way of experiencing and enjoying science. I may actually learn some actual science along the way.

It got me thinking about the similarities between historical fiction and science fiction. Not everyone has the same background in history that I have. I know from experience that the way history is taught as the college level is very different form the way history is taught at the high school level. I know that college in general is out of reach for many people for a variety of reasons. I know that the quality of the history curriculum in some high schools can be very shitty. People in those sorts of situations might not feel comfortable just picking up a biography or any of the sorts of historical sources that feel comfortable to me. Historical fiction might be for some folks what science fiction is for me: a way to experience the subject in a more palpable way.

A number of authors have written about the importance of fiction. Their sentiment can basically be boiled down to this: fiction is how we learn about ourselves and the world around us. What I’ve learned through my experience with science fiction is this: who am I to judge someone for liking historical fiction (or any other genre, for that matter)? That was absolutely wrong of me and I regret it.

What draws you to the genres you enjoy? Has your love for one genre ever helped you appreciate another genre?

This post originally appeared on She Treks.

Hello, world!

Why, hello there. Welcome to the very first post here at Geekalicious. I feel like I should post something introductory in nature, but I never know what to say. So. Hi. I’m SE, but you can call me either Sue or Taylor. Take your pick, I truly don’t care. I’ll probably also answer to SE or “hey you” if you felt like yelling either in my direction. I’m a 30-something based in Pennsylvania. And I collect blogs like some people collect Magic Cards. Perhaps you know me from my journal writing blog, Nerdy Wordy, my Star Trek blog, She Treks, or my blog of random, Haphazard. Yup, that’s all me. What can I say? I’ve enjoyed writing since I was little and I’ve been intrigued by blogging since I discovered what blogs were.

One of the reasons that I decided to start Geekalicious came out of my experience with She Treks: I’ve been enjoying reviewing episodes of Star Trek and wanted a space to cover other franchises I enjoy (though perhaps ones that aren’t quite as huge as Star Trek). I also wanted space to review books and discuss pop culture and fandom at large. Fun fact: I didn’t really discover that I enjoy science fiction and fantasy until adulthood. For some reason, I dismissed the genres as not for me while I was growing up. That could be due in part to growing up in a household where nobody was into either genre. But in any case, I didn’t really get into them until my 20s when I decided to give the genres a shot on a whim. As such, I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do (which fed into my desire to start She Treks: this will be my first time watching Star Trek). I still have lots to learn, lots of “classic” SFF that I haven’t read/watched and want to. I anticipate there being a bunch of posts on Geekalicious being SFF related as I explore the genres. However, I’m not limiting myself strictly to those genres either. In fact, one of the first things I’m planning on doing is doing a series of reviews about a television show that doesn’t fit into either genre (more on that in a later post). I see a lot of book and television reviews in my future – but I consider any pop culture related discussion to be fair game.

So let’s get the party started, shall we? I hope to post at least every Wednesday, with the occasional Saturday post.

I’m looking forward to embarking on this journey. Will you join me?