Monday, 27 October 2008

Search for the sci-fi gene

I enjoy watching bad films.

I am sure I am not alone. For a start the films are out there - for every Escape from New York there are only too many Escapes from L.A. - so someone other than me must also be watching them.

I am increasingly convinced that the ability to sit through and enjoy these films may be a genetic flaw. It's not limited to film either but works for other media too - I inherited my interest in science fiction from my father and his collection of C.J.Cherryh (good) and Gordon R.Dickson (less good) paperbacks. Sometimes it's hard to put into words exactly what I'm getting out of a novel, watching a film or a TV show, or playing a PC game - the enjoyment is often accompanied by full awareness that the experience carries no merit whatsoever. My hypothesis is that there is a gene, the sci-fi gene, where inheritance of two deletions prevents the linkage between critical thought and emotional response to a film.

I should add I enjoy good films, books or games too - sci-fi or otherwise. There are plenty of sci-fi classics that really deserve their reputation even if they are only recognized within the genre. Terminator. There are also plenty of films that have some merit despite their shortcomings. The Star Wars sextet reminds me of a fireworks display. Some films have a great concept and may be worth watching despite serious deficiencies in acting or direction - Sim0ne, say; while others are inexplicably joyful. I am proud to be the owner of Spiders, Spiders 2, Octopus and Octopus 2 all in one box set.

I'm not looking for a cure for this affliction, but think the phenomenon merits further study. I'd love to hear of other people with unusually high tolerance for absolute crap delivered in a sci-fi wrapper.

Why a blog? In addition to reviews, occasionally I find myself thinking about the nature of sci-fi, sci-fi concepts and life itself, or I may share experiences of marginal relevance to sci-fi. It all makes sense to the holistic detective within me. When reviewing I sometimes find it helpful to compare books or films, this doesn't easily lend itself to a one-title review system. I'm writing for the pleasure of writing, and because I enjoy reading other articles and blogs on these topics.


Digital Desperado said...

"my father and his collection of C.J.Cherryh"

That's a bit weird but ditto, and I also have a strange need to see bad sci-fi through to the end.

My dad has a sci-fi library in his garage but I read a lot of his C.J.Cherryh partly because the cover art was ace.

Sci-Fi Gene said...

It's strange coming back to this virgin post after so many years.

Cover art was definitely part of the appeal. A lot of cover art was uncredited in those days but in retrospect I think Chris Foss in particular was to blame: not only on the C.J. Cherryh paperbacks but also the Asimovs and Harrisons.