THE blog had a moment in the sunshine today when I appeared on City Talk, a radio station in Liverpool.
I had been asked to appear on a show called I Hate Sci Fi, where I would be swimming against the tide somewhat by saying why it was great. I’ll be putting my bit up on here soon.
The presenter, Duncan Barkes, certainly gave me both barrels after being tipped off by Will – my former workmate and his producer – that I could hold my own – cheers mate!
But I think I gave as good as I got, for instance when I got Duncan to admit he’d never watched Blade Runner moments after slating it!
This led to me having a go at him for criticising something – in this case sci-fi – without knowing anything about it other than a few loosely held assumptions.
The central thrust of his argument was that sci-fi fans are losers and they believe this stuff really exists. (Memo to Duncan, we don’t – the clue’s in the title of the genre).
Still it was all good knockabout fun and if nothing else it got me thinking about just why I do love sci-fi.
I mean sure, as a kid, what’s not to love about space ships, future babes, laser guns and the Force – it’s super cool.
But as a grown up, I find I am drawn to the ideas behind the action, more so than the action itself. The best sci-fi – like Blade Runner, 2001, the new Battlestar Galactica or Firefly – makes you think about what it is to be human by acting as a mirror or prism to the human condition.
The eternal questions of who are we and what are we here for are thrown into sharp relief when we come up against something different – the alien, the new planet, the five-breasted slave girl from the planet sex.
It also allows us to look at and challenge the way we live today by following contemporary subjects like global warming, the use of genetics or the influence of technology to new and exciting conclusions in utopian or dystopian futures (or my particular favourite, utopian futures which are actually dystopian, like in Logan’s Run or Serenity.)
For instance, in the 1960s, Star Trek featured men in strangely tailored velour suits acting (at times) badly, but it also commented on subjects including the Vietnam war and racial segregation.
You can’t say that about an episode of Eastenders, and that’s watched by 10million people. People are idiots.
Also, sci-fi is still a blast to watch, but now sitting alongside my son, Izaak. As I said to Duncan, that is real, and sci-fi – in this case Doctor Who, every Saturday – allows us to do that.
I love sci-fi for lot of reasons, but that final one is like the cherry on top of the cake.