I may have mentioned this before, but I am about to make a full confession. Science fiction? I LOVE it.
We had a staff meeting, where someone mentioned that about a year before I joined the staff at my company, Edward James Olmos had been a speaker at an event. I was rather perturbed that this had happened before my time, and exclaimed, "He's in my favorite TV show!" "You mean Miami Vice?" my CEO asked. I responded before my brain caught up with my mouth: "No, Battlestar Galactica!"
Anyways, I love it. The first thing that could be lacked science fiction that I saw was that (somewhat awful in retrospect) Nickelodeon show Space Cases. (Yes, I am aware that to some of you, I am very young, and to other of you, I probably seem old. Whatevs.) The idea fascinated me--this whole imaginary world! Where crazy things were possible! It was wonderful!
Then, one fateful day, I wandered into the TV room, and the last 30 minutes of Star Wars was on. "What's this?" I asked my mom. She look at me, curious. "I've never shown you Star Wars?" Nope. So, I sat down and watched. And I watched Empire Strikes Back the next day. And I watched Return of the Jedi on the following day. I was hooked. I bought and borrowed Star Wars books. I watched the movies over and over.
An equally glorious day came when I discovered the sci-fi channel. A little show called Stargate SG1 started in 1997. I started watching towards the end of 1998. I watched all of the spin offs, and the movie that originated it. I watched X-Files, along with the rest of the world. I watched (and am still working my way through) all the iterations of Star Trek. Firefly. God help me, Seaquest. You name it, I've been watching.
It's not just the TV--its the books. The Wheel of Time series, the Otherland series, and so on. I completely fell in English-nerd love with the Lois McMaster Bujold series on Miles Vorkosigan. Go read that one, starting with Cordelia's Honor. You don't need to be a sci-fi person to love it. It's just good.
Somewhere along the way, I began to identify why I love this stuff. It's not just the cutting edge technology (don't get me jewelry, get me gadget--which I suppose makes me ideally suited for my formerly engineer now a patent attorney husband), and its not just the wild, barely possible and maybe impossible ideas. It's not just the thought that maybe this could happen some day, maybe we could have technology to do that, ways to see this, a future without or with that.
It's the women. There is something about science fiction that tends to (not always, I know) breed strong female characters. Truly, I did not have any women with a backbone around me growing up. Okay, maybe backbone is the wrong word--I think I mean strong sense of their own worth, and wiling to demand the respect of those around them. I didn't have that--except through my science fiction addiction.
In these shows and movies and books, I saw (fictional) women who were astrophysicists, who were in the military, who didn't need a man to be in a relationship with, who had brilliant ideas. They were women who were good at math and science, who didn't always first define themselves as mothers, although they cherished that role too. It was an "and," not an "only." They were pilots, they were scientists, they were warriors, they were professors, they were presidents, they were leaders of rebellions. They were villains, too. They weren't always pure. They were complicated.
I think there is just something about the science fiction (and fantasy) genre that doesn't just push gender boundaries, it just...ignores the ones we have. It creates new ones, or discards them completely.
It made think I could do it too. I want that for Ms. Lis--the ability to see beyond the horizons I had, and the ability to see beyond the horizons I have given her. I want her imagination to be even more vast than mine was. I want her belief in herself and her own worth to be more steady than mine was, and maybe is. I want the possibilities of the present and the future to dance before her, and I want to work for them. I want the dreams of what is possible, maybe no tin her lifetime, but in that of her children or grandchildren, to be something that she watches, reads about, and helps set in motion. I want her to want the same for her children.
So I read to her. I try pass on a love of possibility and imagination.