Sunday, October 5, 2008

Reading Science Fiction

I do a lot of reading.  A lot.  I go through many books a year and countless comic books.  There is always a stack of reading material at my bedside that is at least a foot high.  

My reading is split pretty evenly between fiction and non-fiction.  I read history books like they are going out of style.  When it comes to fiction I enjoy mostly fantasy and spy novels, with a few slice-of-life stories thrown in here and there (John Irving being my favorite).  

Most of my science fiction reading comes in the form of Star Wars novels.  Most will not be winning any Pulitzers, but as a big fan of Star Wars, the books feed my need for more stories in the universe.  

But every now and then I break out of the mold and go for something else.  Back in 1994 when I was just breaking into the computer programming scene I read William Gibson's Neuromancer.  It's required reading for all computer geeks, especially web developers as Gibson coined the term cyberspace.  

I went on to read a bunch of novels by Gibson and I'm currently half way through Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash.  This is another classic book among the programming crowd.
I'm enjoying it quite a bit, but there is one problem.

When I read sci-fi books I always feel like I never quite know what exactly is going on.  I can follow the story, but I can't follow the world.  Because these novels are set in some psuedo-future world where things are all just a little different, I can't quite imagine how they are supposed to look.  I have no point of reference.  Star Wars books don't suffer from this because I have the movies to go to for look and feel.  Fantasy doesn't have this problem because we all know what castles and dragons look like.  But whenever I read sci-fi I feel like I'm in a dream where everything is a little hazy.  

I'm sure it's just me and my inability to paint a mental picture.  Which is probably the reason I'm not an artist.  I can't picture it in my mind.  

So does anyone else out there have the same problem when they read science fiction?


Rich said...

I guess I get caught by that too. More so in the Gibson novels and their like. And I guess there is another argument as to what is Sci-Fi because there are those who would argue star wars pre-Mediclorians(sp?) was fantasy more than Sci-Fi (Sorry I took Fantasy and Sci Fi as electives in College.)

Kat said...

For me, it depends on the writer and their style of storytelling. I had to read Neuromancer twice in order to get all of the world where a little known book called Larissa I had down in the first paragraph.
I have the same problem with fantasy sometimes too. Wizard of Earth Sea was a breeze but Tolkien I've had to read multiple times to make sure I understood what was going on properly.

Maybe it's just that the authors you've read for sci-fi have a writing style that does not work well with your visualization processes. :)

Geek Bry said...

I suppose that maybe the sci-fi authors I have read might be harder to visualize. I never really thought of that.

What other sci-fi is good?

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