Friday, 22 June 2012

set phasers to stun

Underwater scenery... very sci-fi.
Don't you think?
(Karina, it makes me think of you!)

"Out-of-the-box, is where I live." (Starbuck, BSG)

Rick likes to remind me that I was once a sci-fi denier. I never read science fiction novels and would only rarely watch a sci-fi movie. The first and only time I saw the original Star Wars movies, I was 25 years old. You could accuse me of being highbrow, but I just didn’t get it. It was too “out there”.

A friend of ours, who’s also a sailor, writes stories. Many of them happen to be set in futuristic worlds. Being an artist myself, when I have a friend who practices any art form, I am going to show my support. The creative field is a tough one and anyone treading its minefield deserves backing; that’s how I came to read my first science fiction novel. When I finished it, I thought: “Wow, this is sci-fi? I didn’t know it could be like that!” I then had to read her second, third, and fourth novels.  I blame Darusha, at least in part, for my relatively newfound enthusiasm for sci-fi. Although we’ve never had a television set, Rick also introduced me to the TV series BattlestarGallactica (2003) and Firefly. I quickly became a fan of both, albeit widely different, shows. Apparently, I just needed the right narratives to hook me in.

Yet, this was still only a novelty. Science fiction, as a genre, was merely in the periphery of my interests. That is, until we left on our voyage. Rick and I have always been avid readers. This was even truer when we started doing long passages and anchoring in secluded anchorages. I quickly began running out of reading material. Rick suggested books from his reading list; his collection includes historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction novels. I’d opened that door a crack, I supposed it was time to walk in. So I did. Nowadays, I read as much science fiction as any other genre found on my bookshelf. Had you told me this 5 years ago, I would have shaken my head and laughed.

There is something to be said about being open. It took me nearly 40 years to come out of the science-fiction closet. I could have remained attached to the idea that I just didn’t like it. After all, it’s a long time to be convinced I had no interest in fantastical tales from outer space, comprising time travel and future worlds…

I find that voyaging sets you up for that kind of discovery because you are so often thrust out of your comfort zone while you are constantly dealing with new people, new places and activities, different cultures or worldviews… When you have been repeatedly thrown off balance, you can’t help but cope differently than you would in a more predictable environment. You could shut yourself off from the unknown, or, you can choose to become more open, more tuned in to new experiences.

Had I not gone on this journey, I wouldn’t have learned that talking about hurricanes and following one hurricane’s path a mere 250 nm away, are two very different things. I wouldn’t know that spear-fishing turns you into a hunter. I didn’t know I had a hunter in me. It feels natural, yet odd. I wouldn’t have met some of the wonderful people that have crossed our path, tasted the strange foods I’ve tasted, or learned about sea life to the extent I have.

While traveling, I have also discovered generosity in its many forms. Human beings are inherently giving when you have the courage to put your trust out there. This became apparent from the many exceptionally patient Mexicans that have corrected my Spanish with a smile and shared their world with us, to the acquaintance who gave Rick a fishing rod and another friend, who gave him a reel after seeing a budding fisherman’s keen interest; to the girlfriend I snorkelled with, who taught me to pause and really look at rocky crevasses for oft-overlooked underwater treasures.

Science-fiction opened up a whole new fictional world for me, yes it did. And voyaging? It opened up my real world and allowed me to see it, in a very immediate way, for the fantastically difficult and beautiful place that it is. Voyaging is like reading a book. You relish the story, then you turn the page, keen to know what is on the other side, curious for what might be. As cliché as it sounds, anything is possible if you make it so.

Kaylee: "Well, we're headed for help... right?"
Zoe: "Captain will come up with a plan."
Kaylee: "That's good. Right?"
Zoe: "Possibly you're not recalling some of his previous plans."


  1. Firefly is one of the bests, hands down

  2. I've always found that being "disinterested" in a genre is rather sad. There is good and bad in any genre. But the good is usually really good. Sometimes its just harder to find. When I read Dune, I fell in love with Scifi, not because it was futuristic, but just because it was a complex story. I could have given a damn that it was a futuristic setting.

    Reading is my love. Glad you enjoy it too. What are you reading now?

  3. If you're feeling like another jaunt into the unknown, I'd highly recommend Perdido Street Station by China Miéville. It's fantasy, but there's not an elf or a sword to be seen.

  4. Well said Tate! The setting is secondary, the story is where it's at, of course every genre has its good and bad reads. I just thought I needed more realism - but it turns out I don't!

    I've just finished reading Jane Eyre of all things and am pondering what to read next - I have a pile of books I got at a book exchange, and a large kindle collection to sort through...

    Thanks for the tip Darusha, will be checking her book out!

    I'm a fan of Firefly (the series, not the movie - it lacked the humour of the series)

  5. I've been thinking that the Brontes might be good reading right now! No idea as to why, since this is about as far away from the English countryside as you can get.

    Reading is pretty close to my favorite thing to do on a boat. And Firefly rocks.



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