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.
My 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.