Walk into the average bookstore and you’ll see a section titled Science Fiction slash Fantasy. A term that combines both these genres is speculative fiction, which is slightly broader. David Bowlin of ShadowKeep Magazing defined it as follows:
Speculative fiction is a world that writers create, where anything can happen. It is a place beyond reality, a place that could have been, or might have been, if only the rules of the universe were altered just a bit. Speculative fiction goes beyond the horror of everyday life and takes the reader (and writer) into a world of magic, fantasy, science. It is a world where you leave part of yourself behind when you return to the universe as we know it, the so-called real world. Speculative fiction defines the best in humanity: imagination, and the sharing of it with others.
Although bookstores and the definition of speculative fiction clump the genres together, the more I read, the more I realise I’m definitely not a science fiction reader. The moment a spaceship enters the picture, I lose interest. And quickly.
Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Shadow was recommended to me and I loved the beginning where street children are fighting each other for survival in a futuristic Rotterdam. Characterisation in this novel is great. From the very start you can see all the different gang members and feel sympathy for little Bean, the main character. But when Bean is sent to a training facility in space a few chapters later, I couldn’t make myself read another word. I left the book lying on the nightstand for four weeks before I had the courage to give it back and say that I couldn’t get through it.
How could a book that started off promisingly be such a disappointment? I think it has to do with the limits of my suspension of disbelief. A wizardry school that can be reached by train leaving from platform 9¾: I wish I’d gotten accepted. Your soul living outside your body in the form of an animal called dæmons: I wonder what animal my soul is. A lion called Aslan that creates a whole new world by singing: beautiful. A machine that can transport people into the future where ape-like troglodytes who live in darkness underground: you’ve lost me!
I think it has everything to do with the idea that these events that go beyond reality are suppose to have been created by man. The supposed technology and science behind it all seems to stretch my imagination to its limits.
Weird thing though is that this limit only applies to books. Although I wouldn’t call myself a trekkie, I did see almost every episode of Star Trek Voyager. I also loved series like Quantum Leap and Sliders.
So, all I can do is to conclude that when it comes to books, I’ll take a wand over a lightsaber any day.