Roundtable: Speculative Fiction Blind Spots

There used to be a time when, as a fan of speculative fiction, you could pretty much say you’d read and watched it all. Of course, you were probably super dedicated, because even in that Golden Age, I’m sure there was a lot to keep up with (especially if you included short fiction). But nowadays, it’s not so easy, because there is a wealth of fantastic books, movies, television, comics, and games, and no matter where you turn, there’s something awesome you’re being told to read, watch, or play. There’s always something that when you admit you’ve never read, watched, or played, you’re met with wide-eyed dismay, because people simply can’t believe you have this giant hole in your speculative fiction repertoire.

Some of our members are working on filling in these holes for their 2017 Resolution Projects, but there are still plenty of other blind spots we have here at Speculative Chic, so I asked everyone:

What’s your biggest speculative fiction blind spot? The one thing you’re embarrassed to admit you haven’t seen/read/played? Why haven’t you watched/read/played it yet?

Remember, this is a judgment-free zone, and no gatekeepers are allowed! We are all fans here! But check out our responses (and be prepared to be amused by the beginning and the ending of this post!), and please, share your own blind spots in the comments!


Sherry: I’m not sure I’m embarrassed I haven’t seen it, but I don’t run around openly declaring it either. I haven’t seen the movie Alien or its sequels. Have you finished gasping in horror yet? I think I started watching it once, or maybe I just saw clips of it, I’m not sure. A friend of mine in junior high was obsessed with that movie, so I know enough about it that I can bluff my way through a basic conversation, and even talk about the exploding chest and the jaws of the alien extending. But I’ve never seen the movie, and to be honest, I’m not sure I will. Alien came out when I was six, and unlike Star Wars, Alien was not a movie my parents were going to take me to. I was quite OK with that. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even on my radar until I was in junior high and the sequel came out. That’s when my friend rented it and became obsessed. Seriously. That’s all she would talk about. She even tried to do the knife in between the fingers thing, but with a pen. Still, it just never held any interest for me. I feel bad about it. I feel like maybe I should watch it, if not to preserve my geek cred, then to at least know what others are actually talking about when they talk about the movie. So if anyone can come up with a convincing argument as to why I should watch it, put it in the comments. If I end up watching it, maybe our Editor-in-Chic will let me do a post on the experience.


Nu: I have tickets at the end of the month to see Neil Gaiman talk on his latest book tour; it’ll be my second time seeing him. I love Gaiman (I read Neverwhere first, but it was American Gods that cemented my love for the author), but I have to confess, I have never read his beloved Sandman comic book series or Good Omens, his popular collaboration with Terry Prachett. Does that make me less of a Gaiman fan? My reasons: I don’t usually read comics (although from what I’ve seen, the style of Sandman is very similar to The Crow by James O’Barr, which I own and love), and I don’t typically like satire fiction, which is what Good Omens sounds like. I might be inclined to pick up the Sandman comics now that there’s a movie coming out based on it, and after becoming a fan of the Lucifer television series, some humor with my fantasy might work after all!


Lane: My blind spot is comic books.  I have a huge love for superheroes.  As a child, I was a fanatic watcher of the Superfriends and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.  I watched Wonder Woman.  I watched the ’90s Flash series.

And superhero movies are the few movies I make an effort to see.  (Love Captain America!  Love Tony Stark!)  But I am that audience member who goes in knowing very little about the characters, because I haven’t read a superhero comic series since…ever.  I’ve read a few here and there — an old black and white Superman collection that someone gave me as a kid, a Wonder Woman stand-alone (Victorian Wonder Woman, was that a thing?), a few random Batman issues (one where he was a vampire, was that a thing?), and the recent graphic novel starring Squirrel Girl. But mostly, the land o’ comics is a giant terra incognita for me.

Thing is, I’m a speed reader, always have been. I bought the new Archie graphic novel and hey, that took up 15 minutes of my life and $15 of my bank account.  What I’m saying is that comics are an expensive and frustrating hobby, especially when you get into the superhero tangle of multiple universes and dependent story-lines.  So it’s a guilty gap in my love of superheroes, and it’s likely to remain that way.


Shara: I’ve not watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There, I’ve said it. Yes, I know it’s the show that defined my generation. Yes, I know it’s the show to which all urban fantasy stories are compared to, and yes, I know I love reading urban fantasy. But I haven’t watched it.

I have my reasons: where I grew up, we didn’t even get all of our network channels in properly. In order to watch Fox, for example, I had to go to my grandparents’ bedroom and sit on the floor and hope for a relatively snow-free signal, which was a rare treat. The WB? What the hell was that, a cable channel? I had no clue. All I knew is that it didn’t exist for me.

I’d seen the original movie: I enjoyed it, and when I read they were doing a television show based on the movie (which I’m pretty sure I read in Teen magazine), I didn’t understand why they’d do such a thing when the movie existed (ah, the innocence of a sheltered youth!). I also couldn’t get the channel, so whatever.

Fast-forward to college, where pretty much all of my friends loved Buffy, but I was so behind on the show. Television shows on DVD had just barely started to become a thing (that I couldn’t afford), so it wasn’t like I could binge-watch to catch up. By time I reached a point I could maybe catch up, the majority of the Buffy fandom on Live Journal had thoroughly turned me off from all things Joss Whedon: they had no trouble carousing to other fandoms and dumping all over them (I swear there was a Joss Whedon versus J.J. Abrams feud going on back in the day), but they treated Buffy the Vampire Slayer like it was a perfect piece of television, and at that point, I knew if I watched it, it’d be for the sole purpose of picking it apart. So my poor friends, who were dying to get me to watch this show, were now fighting an uphill battle.

Obviously, I’m far removed from those years and the desire to pick it apart, and now, I’ve definitely got the show thanks to all the streaming services available at my fingertips. It’s just now, there’s a thing called time that’s in short supply, and I don’t know how or when I’ll get around to watching it when there’s so many newer and shinier things to watch (and re-watch!). Maybe one day….


Carey: I have never read 1984. It wasn’t taught in my school system (unless it was taught in one of those mysterious AP courses I heard so much about), and none of my college courses required it — although I have a love-hate relationship with “required reading,” I understand there are books I never would have read outside of school. I’ve picked it up a few times intending to read it, but always set it down again after a few pages. My last attempt was about ten years ago.

I’ve read and reread (and reread) Animal Farm, so I thought I’d be able to read 1984. I know the gist of 1984 — who doesn’t? — but it’s not the same as reading it. Alas, it’s a case of “same writer, vastly different works.” I have tackled, and enjoyed, similarly themed books: We, by Yegevny Zamyatin, blew my mind, and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower stands as one of my favorite slow apocalypse titles. And if I didn’t like what I read, I respected it. (Mostly.)

I’m going through a phase now where I am reading classics, both science fiction and mainstream, that I never got to before, for one reason or another. So far this has been a very enriching endeavor — perhaps now is a very good time to try 1984 again.


J.L. Gribble: Here’s the thing: I am 100% not embarrassed to admit this one. Everyone who knows me knows that I am the world’s biggest wuss. I don’t like horror, I don’t like scary things jumping out at me, I don’t like suspense. When I enjoy a form of media, I don’t want to be stressed out while I do it. So, I’m proud to say that I’ve gone my entire life without seeing the movie Alien.

I’ve seen the parts that are a requirement to being a functioning member of American science-fiction fandom, obviously. I’ve seen clips of Sigourney Weaver shooting things from the mech unit, and after being thoroughly spoiled for it, I even enjoyed the classic “chest burster” scene. Those are the important bits, right? The rest is just mouths-within-mouths ripping astronauts’ faces off, or some such?

After my husband thoroughly vetted it beforehand, I did watch Prometheus a few years ago — in the middle of the day, in a brightly lit room — so that I could enjoy my continued crush on Michael Fassbender. But the trailers for the upcoming Alien: Covenant look like a return to form, and I’m content to “nope” right back out of this science-fiction universe. My blind spot shall continue to be blind, no matter how tempting Michael Fassbender may be.

7 Comments

  • Sherry Peters March 10, 2017 at 10:34 am

    I’m not the only one who hasn’t seen Alien!!! I feel so much better now!

    Reply
    • steelvictory March 10, 2017 at 10:54 am

      #teamnope

      Reply
    • Betsy Whitt March 11, 2017 at 12:56 am

      We’re like a whole no-Aliens team here! And I have to admit, I have several other gaps in my reading/viewing that are rather jaw-dropping, particularly in light of the power of social media and the internet, which has turned some writers into Hollywood-level celebs who can do no wrong. I have always been more of one to browse my library and bookstore stacks to find my next author to read, not necessarily grab the most prominently displayed stuff.

      Reply
  • Lane Robins March 10, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    I haven’t seen Alien either. And I think there comes a point where it’s too late to go back and try to watch it. Shara, the best thing about Buffy is probably the dialogue. I think the rest of it–ground breaking as it was at the time–doesn’t date all that well.

    Reply
  • Casey March 10, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Put me in the no-Aliens camp too!

    Reply
  • Nicole Taft March 11, 2017 at 12:56 am

    All right, all right. Enough of this “no aliens” nonsense. You want some reasons to see it? I’ll give you some. But first, I’ll give you leave to skip the first movie. It is excellent in its own way in the horror genre of “being unable to escape from terrible horror and omg there’s also nothing to fight with” which is still fairly popular in the video game world. But I’d like to take a moment to talk to you about Aliens. There’s a reason your friend became obsessed with the second one.

    It. Is. Awesome. Let me break it down for you.

    1.) Afraid of getting bored? Attention wandering? Not going to happen here. Seriously, if you get bored during this movie, something is wrong with you because even during the slow parts you can’t relax because slow isn’t slow – slow is the quiet before the storm. The silence before the shit hits the fan.

    2.) You don’t even need to see the first one before seeing the second one. They very clearly let you know what happened in the first one.

    3.) Bill Paxton as Hudson. You owe it to Bill to see one of his most iconic movie roles. Okay, maybe you don’t owe it to him, but you’ll finally at least get the context for some of his most memorable lines.

    4.) Michael Biehn as Hicks. Hicks is the shit and you will love that man forever.

    5.) Vasquez. I cannot impress upon you how much I freaking love her character. She may not have a lot of screen time, but she was the female I wanted to be when I was ten. Other people had Wonder Woman and the like, but holy CRAP I wanted to be and see more of Vasquez. In the novelization her and Drake are described at one point as “dobermans at play” and never has a line been written that is more fitting.

    6.) Badass women in general. Yes, there are more males than females in this movie, but the women who are in here are not cowering in fear. They’re wielding pulse rifles, flying ships, and calling alien queens bitches.

    7.) Practical effects. No CGI here. I can’t begin to describe how much I love the practical effects in this movie. Any time anyone claims CGI is better I will point at this movie and look at them like they are legitimately insane.

    8.) It’s action horror. Not slow-moving horror. In this movie, people fight back when they can, tooth and nail, and take some of the bad things with them. Personally, I like it when people can fight back against awfulness.

    9.) I watched this movie when I was 10. Put on your big girl panties and watch Ellen Ripley go toe-to-toe with Mama Alien. Although seriously, the aliens weren’t what was scary to me. It was those damn facehuggers.

    ….Seriously, fuck those things. (and while I do tell you to put on your big girl panties, I will absolutely admit to still skipping through the moment with the chestburster. Always skipped it as a kid, and it still gives me the heebie-jeebies to this day)

    Reply
    • Shara White March 13, 2017 at 10:32 pm

      There is also a cat. In both movies. Yay, cats!

      Reply

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