Last Thursday, I went to a science fiction tea party. It was hosted by Malmö City Library and it featured two women who work at the local SF book store. They did a Power Point presentation on the subject of science fiction in literature. More specifically, futuristic science fiction.
I went there both as a book blogger (completely incognito, should the question arise) and as a rabid fan of SF literature and hot beverages.
The presentation was short- about forty minutes, minus the following Q&A, but the book store ladies still managed to cover most of the themes that are typically found in futuristic SF. The bulk of the presentation was space, and what it represents in the SF. Space is the final frontier of discovery and exploration. But space is also big (unfathomably big), and thus it functions as the perfect backdrop for discussing and exploring themes like diversity and xenophobia, war and peace, and cultural identity. Space is basically a playground for the author to project his or her own feelings and thoughts on life.
The book store ladies also took the discussion down to the terrestrial level, where you can usually find topics like the environment, government control, and (again) cultural identity. I guess the consensus here is that you don't have to go to outer space to have an outlet for your imagination and discuss interesting topics.
This was their presentation in a nutshell. And I hate to say that it left me quite disappointed. Don't get me wrong, they delivered exactly what they promised: science fiction and tea, but I was expecting something more. I know it's not right to make comparisons, but a couple of years ago, I attended a similar tea party, also hosted by the library and the book store ladies, which was all about Steampunk. And I remember that evening being a lot more interesting. Maybe it was because the atmosphere there was warmer, or because some participants were cosplaying as Victorian futurists. Maybe it was the fact that I didn't know much about the Steampunk sub genre and I found the presentation a lot more interesting.
And this presentation didn't focus on anything that I didn't already know. Perhaps that was a big part of the problem: that presentation was aimed at someone who doesn't know a lot about this genre. And I'm fine with that. It was a nice presentation nonetheless, and the ladies put a lot of effort and humour into it. Clearly, they are very passionate about the subject.
Another thing that left me disappointed was that they focused too much on the newer titles and kind of glossed over the classic SF. I know that I'm being criminally biased here, only because I have a special kind of love for authors like Bradbury and Asimov. Still, I couldn't shake off the feeling that the book store ladies were being dismissive of the classics, almost implying that the new books are better simply because they are more diverse (which is a subject for another discussion, and I'm not opening that Pandora's box just yet).
Still, it's nice to see SF get the attention and the love it deserves, and I salute the library for arranging such an event in the first place. Even though SF is pretty much mainstream now, it still remains the most unappreciated literary genre. So when a public library shows SF some much needed love, one can't help but nod approvingly.
To say that this evening wasn't rewarding in any way is a bit too harsh. For instance, I had a nice chat with another Isaac Asimov fan. Plus, it made me realise how much I miss reading SF. It was a bittersweet feeling, especially when we were showed to a display table with some of the titles that were discussed in the presentation. And, boy, did it feel tempting to just grab some of those books with beautiful covers and intriguing titles and max up my library card. And it was with a heavy heart that I pulled myself away from the display table and went home. Because, you know, time limits. Priorities. Stuff like that.
So, this was my big science fiction-related event of the month. Here's the link to the presentation on the book store's blog. It's in Swedish, but most of the book titles are in English.
Labels: discussion, library, news, science fiction, science fiction bokhandeln