Being asked the question, “Why do you write Science Fiction?” is like asking a man in the desert why he kept drinking. Both I and that old codger in the scrublands would look at the person whom inquired with an odd twitch of our necks, causing our heads to bob like one of them plastic dogs in the back windshield of a sixty seven ford. It would ordinarily be followed by a spray of tobacco juice spat on the ground from a current mouthful of chew.
Although I never smoked or chewed tobacco, I understand the symbolism.
Old Louie Barnojarni, an immigrant from France, and a neighbor across the street where I grew up, once told me a story of when he was a boy and observed the old men whom rocked in chairs along an eastern Atlantic boardwalk. They would spit and say, “It will never replace a horse.” They said that in response to the first noisy and smelly gas driven car which came to town.
Ok, so they were wrong about their spitting tirade in the later example, but you can see how knowledge and experience get tangled up with spitting. That black piece of goo is like saying poetically, “gee let me count the ways,” metaphorically speaking. It is a complete communication. It was used very artfully by Clint Eastwood in the movie Josey Wales.
Having been asked enough similar questions, one inherently understand that you could never explain nor satisfy the query with either adequate prose or include all the facets of the genre.
When I was in the hospital, a nurse asked me why I wrote. I tried to answer her as simple as possible and at the end of my discourse she replied, “I don’t get it.”
Another nurse saw my catalog of books which I had written and she asked, “So how come you have not been on Ophra yet?”
Do you understand why them old boys just spat!
I could have given examples of “future thinkers” like Captain Nemo’s submarine or how often there is some science in Science Fiction, but, alas, I don’t think it would help. Writers of any genre or style in their initial stages of there efforts have been asked by well meaning relatives and friends , “You’re a writer huh. I read a book once. How much do you make anyways?”
It is not a mystery why we crowd hotels during conventions and gobble up every precious piece of writing war story and successful fairy tale about how such and such has gotten a book published and now live in some ivory tower.
Next time you are asked such a question, just symbolically spit. It’s better that way. The hotel staff or your mother won’t make you clean it up.