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timdalton007


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'You Need To Read Something Real...'
Contemplating
timdalton007

So earlier today I got to help surprise my Con Kasterborous boss and “other mom” Bonnie for her birthday along with a large group of friends and fellow Con K staffers. Afterwords I went to the Books A Million next door to the Casablanca on Highway 72 to browse around for a few minutes. While there I overheard a conversation between two parents and their teenage son who were in the science fiction and fantasy book section. The son was looking at books with a pair of disapproving parents.

You need to find something real,” the father said.

Something with some real value to it,” the mother said before turning around to point out all the bargain fiction books behind her. She found a copy of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in among those titles and proceeded to make fun of it before the father drug the son off towards the poetry books across the aisle and a couple of rows down.

I wanted to say something. I wanted to point that science fiction has actually helped to inspire real engineers and scientists. I wanted to point out that the father of American rocketry, Robert Goddard, was inspired by reading things like The War Of The Worlds or point out the cell phone was inspired by the communicators seen in Star Trek back in the 1960s. I wanted to point to books that fall into the science fiction genre that are also literary works such as the novels of Wells or Margaret Atwood with books like The Handmaiden's Tale or Nineteen Eighty-Four that are science fiction works in a way. That science fiction can often be as much about people as it is about spaceships, robots, ray guns and whatever cliches these two parents were thinking of.

Instead though I said nothing. Maybe I should have, I don't know. It does make me wonder how many people out there get their love of reading assassinated by disapproving parents or mentors who look down their noses at what young people “ought to be reading.” The kind of people who forget that ultimately reading fiction is supposed to be about being entertained, hopefully informed along the way as well but to be entertained. There's nothing wrong with poetry, don't get me wrong (I love Dylan Thomas after all) but let the lad read what he wants. You can read different genres and enjoy them. Trust me, I'm reading a witty supernatural steampunk thriller and a book on the early history of the CIA right now!

In short: Let them read and find what speaks to them.


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