Lola’s Rambings is a feature on Lola’s Review where I talk about me. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like blog tours, book blitzes, cover reveals or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are are personal discussions of a certain topic. Sometimes about book related topics and sometimes about non-book related topics. If an Lola’s Ramblings post is about a non-book topic it gets the non-book content posts tag. This feature was previously knows as About Me. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Design.
As soon as I signed-up for Sci-fi Month November I started thinking about topics and the first topic that came to mind was my rocky relationship with the sci-fi genre. I don’t remember ever writing in depth about it, so that’s what this post is for!
Sci-Fi and me: how it all started
Till about a year ago I used to say that I didn’t like sci-fi books, whether that statement was really true we’ll talk about later, but in general I knew I didn’t like sci-fi. I always had the idea that sci-fi books where about spaceships and battles and boring stories, with no focus on the characters. I just didn’t see anything in this genre that I would like. Not only that, but I always have been afraid of space, just the whole concept and realization of how small we are frightened me, no way I wanted to read about that. Now it turned out not only was my idea of what sci-fi is wrong, but it turned out I actually like those spaceship stories as well.
I came to realize that not all sci-fi books feature spaceships, space and aliens. I realized that dystopia was actually a sub-genre of sci-fi and even before my opinion of sci-fi changed I had already read a few sci-fi books. Although at that moment I stayed more to on the it’s-almost-fantasy side of sci-if, like Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn which is a sci-fi book where everyone can read minds. Now the fact is there is a scientifical explanation for mindreading in that book, which makes it a sci-fi instead of fantasy. But when I read the book it felt more like fantasy to me, so I was okay with it. So I had already read some books that actually classified as sci-fi, but I didn’t realize that at the time. I just kept believing I hated sci-fi.
Why didn’t I like sci-fi at first?
One question that still confuses me is why I didn’t like sci-fi at first. It had something to do with my wrong impressions of the genre, but even those things I thought I didn’t like, like space stuff, were things I actually ended up liking. And I even played some games with sci-fi elements like Ratchet and Clank and even one of my favourite games Kingdom Hearts had a travel to other worlds through space aspect. I didn’t mind that, but concerning books I stayed as far away from sci-fi as possible. I just didn’t feel like my kind of genre. And that sounds like such a weak explanation that I don’t know why I didn’t like sci-fi for so long. Also usually I am pretty open to new genres and willing to give it a try, but sci-fi nope. And this was all based on a feeling and a wrong impression of the genre.
Slowly but surely my idea of sci-fi began to change. It all started when I was organizing a blog tour for an author for the small press I was working at the time. An authors signed-up for one of the blog tours I was organizing. Now this wasn’t what was weird, but what was weird is that I actually clicked through to find out where her books were about. When I found out she wrote a book about japanese who where the last people on earth, I was immediately intrigued. Then I found out it was sci-fi. I doubted for a bit and then went over to Kobo and bought the book. The book was Removed by SJ Pajonas and that book would forever change my opinion of sci-fi.
So a while later I read the book and fell in love with the series and the author’s writing style. I found myself questioning whether sci-fi really as that bad as I loved this book. It just didn’t fit, I didn’t like sci-fi as a genre, but I loved this sci-fi book. Then later my boyfriend tried to convince me for the second time to watch Star Wars with him, I like spending time with my boyfriend, but Star Wars sounded exactly like the type of sci-if I didn’t like. Spaceships battles and boring characters and then the fact that everyone seemed to love Star Wars. I rather not watch it. So it my boyfriend some time to convince me, but I watched the first Star Wars movie with my boyfriend. And guess what? I loved it! I loved the different species, the story, the characters and yes all those sci-fi elements. I thought I hated sci-fi, but those space battles and the different planets and species turned out to be fun. And most sci-fi even had lots of world building and I just love world building. It didn’t take me long to change my opinion of the genre after that. I changed my Review Policy to mention I now accepted sci-fi books as well and started looking for more sci-fi books to read. I also watched the whole Star Wars series with my boyfriend and we’re currently watching Star Trek Voyager. I found out I actually love the sci-fi genre! Even nowadays I find it strange I could believe I hate a genre and then find out I actually loved it. I just find it weird and still wish I had been more open to this genre earlier.
So my question to you is:
I read a lot of sci-fi years ago – my father used to love that and I read his books 🙂 My favorites were Richard Matheson, Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, but I also read Heinlein, Vonnegut, Van Vogt and others. Later, I turned more to sci-fi movies or series (Star Trek, Farscape, Stargate and co) than sci-fi books. In books, I prefered fantasy or paranormal, but I’ve seen some reviews lately that might make me swing back to it (Andy Weir, for example). My opinion has drastically changed… on romance novels ! I used to despise them, but I finally took a liking to them 😉
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My mom didn’t read many books I was interested, she had a bookshelve with dutch crime novels that didn’t sound appealing to me. My mom has read a few of the books I liked, like Harry Potter, but not the other way around.
How interesting to hear that you first despised romance books. It’s so weird how we can be convinced we don’t like a genre, when later we find out that isn’t true.
When I was writing my sci-fi, I was worried that it wasn’t sci-fi enough. It’s character driven and definitely light on the space battles. Unlike Fantasy which has a plethora of sub-genres to sort through, sci-fi seems to be limited to terms like “action and adventure” and “space opera” and such. I am glad to see more folks taking a chance on the idea of science fiction, and understanding it’s more than just aliens and lightsabers.
At the moment I enjoy both books light on the sci-fi element and those heavier on the sci-fi elements, both can make a good book. I think sci-fi has a lot of subgenres, but they might be less well known. Or maybe people don’t realize they are sci-fi, I only recently realized that Steampunk is a sci-fi genre as well!
Sounds like we started off in the same boat Lola. I’m still not drawn to what I call straight scifi, as aliens and space fights don’t tend to appeal to me. I like dystopian and I’m drawn to fantasy-like scifi. I have only read one SciFi involving aliens that I liked, and it was only ok for me. I did recently read Stitching Snow – which takes place on a different set of planets – and enjoy it, but despite being technically space and aliens, it felt more fantasy that scifi
Its funny because as a kid, I grew up in star wars and star trek – but now I really don’t like star wars at all ( its just boring to me). I do enjoy the star trek movies, but I could easily miss them too. Idk why exactly, but once space gets involved then chances I’ll like it diminish. Great post!
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Indeed some sci-fi books feel more like fantasy. I like it when books cross genres like that. Every time I hear aliens I still think about the stereotypical green skinned aliens, lol.
Space still scares me and I try not to think about what it actually means to be in space. But on the other hand it gives a great backdrop for stories and I just like how in Star Trek you can see space form their windows instead of urban areas, it’s fun.
One of the tings I like most about sci-fi is the ability to explore new worlds, just like with fantays, it seems like almost everything is possible.
Yay for Star Wars! 😀
Hm, I don’t think there was any real thing that changed my views of the science fiction genre. For me, I’ve always somehow been in touch with a story that had scifi elements and really liked it. I’m very happy that you’ve joined us in our love of science fiction! 😀
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I just love Star Wars and it really helped me fall in love with the sci-fi genre.
I am that way with fantasy books, I’ve always enjoyed them as long as I can remember. I still don’t get why I never liked sci-fi until recently. But well I gues sit’s better late then never ;).
I was also really scared of sci-fi too, but now I am more open minded (ha, I did not even mean the pun with Open Minds!) about it, and have read quite a few that I’ve liked. Now, some are still a little too “out there” for me, and they HAVE to be believable (like you said with Open Minds, I also enjoyed that series because it did feel believable) or I can’t do it. Also, I am so excited that you loved Removed, I have it on my Kindle but haven’t read it yet, I really should now!
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I am more open minded when it comes to trying new genres nowadays, although there are still a few genres I usually avoid. Indeed it’s very important for me that a story is believeable and somehow makes sense.
You really should read Removed! I love that series so much and am eagerly waiting on the release of the next book. Sj Pajonas is one my favourite authors and I literly push all my other books aside just to start her books as soon as I get my hands on them. I can’t wait to hear what you think of Removed :).
Thanks for this post! I think you’ve expressed something that I’ve heard from others before: that they didn’t like “sci-fi” and didn’t realize that the things they liked (be it books, movies or TV shows) were actually categorized as “sci-fi.” It is to your credit that you not only recognized this, but also that you are able to express it!
What this points to, I think, is a healthy skepticism people have about genre definitions, and how they can seem to be so limiting. From the outside, genres can seem like one thing, but once you get into it you might so all the variations within a genre. In that sense, the healthy skepticism could be about the difference between marketing (which can have a dramatic impact on how something is perceived) and the thing itself. Hmm … maybe these ideas would make a good blog post??
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That’s a great point you make! I agree that genre definitions can be limiting or people (like me) don’t realize what exactly the genre entails. And only when you’re actually into a genre you realize how broad it is.
On the one hand it would be great if you could market your book with the exact terms that describe your book, but then there would be so many different terms that it can be difficult for readers to judge if it’s something they would like. Genres do make it easier to group like minded books together. But indeed it also limits expressing each book on it’s own enough.
I think that’s also one of the reasons I prefer to look at the blurb and cover first. And only later at the age category and genre as I feel those are less relevant.
I used to love sci-fi, but I think I got just a little bit bored of it. I think I should try it again, though. I’ll have to check out Removed.
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I would definitely recommend Removed. The sci-fi elements don’t take over the whole book and there’s a great story and some romance as well. I think every genre can get a bit boring when you read too many books in the same genre in a short time.
You’re completely spot on – the key to good sci-fi is the characters. I love good world building and fun gadgets and spaceships. But if I’m not also interested in the characters, it’s hard to really care about the story. That’s so cool that you realized you actually liked sci-fi 🙂
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I think characters are so important in a book, it’s hard to care about the book when you don’t care about the characters. World building and story are two important things for me as well, although if there is great world building and interesting characters I can deal with a less good story.