Sci-Fi Month: Introducing Myself

Today is November 1, which means it’s the first day of Sci-Fi Month. For my first post, I’ll introduce myself and how I came to enjoy science fiction, following the set of questions from Rinn’s first post.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

tw3My name’s Dan Mansfield, and I live in southern Ontario with my artist wife Gavy and our two cats (Cromwell, named after the Tudor politician, and Huxley, named after the scientist, although she’s a female cat. Basically, our cats are named Thomas and Thomasina, no reference to the movie intended). We’re expecting a third, human addition to our family early next year, so if you follow either Gavy or me on Twitter you can see updates on our Geekling’s progress :D.

I’m a cartographer, blogger, and aspiring science fiction writer. I like to read about science (the works of Carl Sagan hold a special attraction for me) and I try to read as much as I can from the massive pile of non-fiction, novels and science fiction magazines that I’ve managed to accumulate, although my mental health sometimes conspires to keep me from it. For too long my depression and anxiety, along with other distractions, have managed to keep me from fully engaging with the science fiction world, but it’s my hope that this blog event, along with my revamp of this blog a few months ago, will change that.

What else? I like classical music, I can play the piano and ukulele a little, and I spend far too much time absorbing information from Wikipedia.

2. How long have you been a fan of sci-fi?

I’m not sure of the precise moment when I started being interested, but it was likely when I was 15-16. I feel like I came to science fiction late (though as Charlie Jane Anders writes, it’s a myth that to enjoy science fiction you need to start at 12). I read Fahrenheit 451 for my Grade 11 independent reading assignment, and it went on from there. I read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and thoroughly enjoyed it for Douglas Adams’ surreal humour and imagination.

When I went off to college in 2003, there was news that Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama would be made into a movie. I had no idea what the book was about aside from the science fiction aspect, but decided to read it before the movie came out. (To this day, the movie still hasn’t been developed). But I was blown away by the book. Arthur C. Clarke’s readable style and lavish detail of an incomprehensible alien artifact led me to purchase more of his work.

The following year, I discovered Isaac Asimov through reading The Naked Sun (the sequel to The Caves of Steel). That summer, I began reading both his short fiction and his collected science essays that he had written for Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine.

That December, I went with my future father-in-law to pick up my girlfriend (who later became my wife) from her first semester at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. While waiting for her class to finish, we walked down the main street and stopped into an amazing used bookstore: Wayfarer Books. (This bookstore later became a featured stop whenever I visited Gavy in Kingston, so much a part of our life that I proposed to her in the main part of the shop). While there, I stumbled across copies of science fiction magazines from the 1980s – Asimov’s, Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction. Up until this point, I had no idea how science fiction writers got started in the field. But here were venues asking for new writers. All you had to do was write, and then submit. It was this trip, and those magazines, that led me to believe that I could, one day, write science fiction and see myself in print.

3. Why do you like sci-fi, and what is your favourite thing about it?

For me, the attraction of science fiction is its limitless possibilities and wonder, its ability to engage with ideas and create something that is both completely remote from our experiences and yet speak incredibly closely to the concerns of society.

My favourite genres within science fiction are time travel and robots/androids/artificial life, subjects rife with imaginative possibility.

4. Favourite books/games/films/TV shows in the genre?

  • Books: Rendezvous with Rama, A Fall of Moondust, The Caves of Steel, The Terminal Experiment. Short fiction by Isaac Asimov, Robert J. Sawyer, and Connie Willis. One of my favourite SF short stories is “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury.
  • Films: 2001: A Space Oddysey, Minority Report, Serenity, Moon.
  • TV shows: Past shows? Star Trek (both TOS and TNG), Firefly, Quantum Leap, Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Twilight Zone (original series). The science fiction shows I’m currently watching are Orphan Black, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and Almost Human when it debuts.

5. What are your plans for Sci-Fi Month?

You can read all about my plans here. The theme for Sci-Fi Month is robots, whether they’re Asimov’s Three Laws-bound robots, Ashby’s von Neumann machines, or android cops. Hope you enjoy it!

So there you have it, a little about me to start. The next scheduled Sci-Fi Month post is November 11, but I’ll likely blog before then.

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7 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Month: Introducing Myself

  1. Hallo Mr. Mansfield,

    I’m thankful that I burnt more of the midnight oil tonight to arrive on your blog, because I am keen to not only read science fiction but to support new authors of the genre! IF I hadn’t discovered Tomorrow Comes Media who promote the works of Seventh Star Press I think I might still be trying to sort out new sci-fi and epic high fantasy to read! :O The two that draw to mind at this hour are: “Chronicles of Ave” and “Redheart” which are more fantasy than sci-fi now that I think on it, but I’ve noticed that most of us SFN geeks in the event are mentioning either/or and &/or examples so perhaps its all good in the end!? I wasn’t sure how to properly separate half of it anyway, so maybe I should add-in some fantasy topics to off-set the imbalance I fear I might have in my schedule! Laughs.

    You’ll appreciate my story on my first Feature (Seventeen to Seven) as it explains how I entered sci-fi from the world of science! Sagan is on my TBR as I have a heap of science writers I want to consume at some point but I’ve been limited on time in recent years as much as trying to sort out which books to read when & such! I think that is one reason I am thankful to join the Classics Club because I can sort out which classical books I want to read that fall under “Science” and “Science Fiction & Fantasy” respectfully!

    As foresaid, my foray back into sci-fi occurred when I clicked on a badge for Tomorrow Comes Media, so I think whenever we each decide its time to venture back into something we’re passionate about then the doors start to open for us to read those books that are calling to us! 🙂 I knew I didn’t want to borrow the books I already own, but as I’m not able to get to those books right now (their in boxes, limited space) I’ve been trying to find authors I can explore through my local library and that is one of the best parts of participating in an event like this! We get to challenge ourselves outside our reading comfort zones and engage with others who might help us discover other authors we may or may not have found ourselves.

    Ahh, Rama!! The one series I have been attempting to read since I cannot tell you how long! I loved seeing the progression of the cover art in the book shoppes though! 🙂 I like Clarke’s style myself, even though I know of him through his films rather than his novels, which is one reason he is listed on my “tCC” list! Cheers! I have books by Asimov packed (as well as my Acorna books, Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars, the Wheel of Time, Outlander, & The Sword of Truth series) but I didn’t let that stop me from seeing I, Robot! Sometimes I’m more of a strictler for reading a book before the film but if your not in a reading mood why not indulge!? I loved the Harry Potter films on this same vein!

    You’ll enjoy my post, as I hinted at how I learnt how the grandfathers & grandmothers began their professional careers in the field, but I didn’t disclose what I learnt by reading those pamphlets and its what you were saying about Analog & the zines that were used as a vehicle to get their works out! They (SFBC) would do articles that spoke of the history or point you in the direction of where you could find more, plus I sort of looked at all the seemingly sci-fi zines whenever I was in a book shoppe that had a nice stock of zines! Being in Ontario you have some wicked sweet indie book shoppes, by the by!! I featured one of them on my blog in the Springtime before I launched my blog: And the Bookshoppe Came Alive!

    I think anything is possible when you believe in your dreams!
    Don’t ever lose heart, you just haven’t found the path that will lead you to where your heading yet!

    I look forward to returning to your blog!
    Happy SFN!

  2. I must say – that is an amazing proposal! How special 🙂

    I’ve not really read much robot sci-fi (nor much sci-fi generally – something I’m working on). But I really enjoyed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

    I look forward to the rest of your posts!

    Happy blogging!
    Kirsty

  3. Aw, brilliant names for your cats! And congratulations too =)

    It’s a shame that a lot of great sf books have been announced as movie productions and then dropped. Another such example is Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos – I think Warner have had the rights for almost ten years now but nothing has gone forward.

    I’m looking forward to your posts! =D

  4. I started science fiction pretty early – but you talked about a lot of my favorites here! I did some things with the Robotics Laws from Asimov when I did some simple robotics with my students last year.

    I’m dedicating an entire week of Sci Fi Month to Doctor Who (Nov 17-23), and I’ll be sharing a lot of what I have found to hook younger readers into the science fiction fandom 🙂

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