A Science Fiction Life

One of my favorite writers, Harlan Ellison, rejected the term “sci-fi” because in his experience it was a restrictive term. It was a term used to describe pulpy, one-sided hero vs alien stories with no substance or creativity. Ellison had a hand in turning “sci’fi” into what science fiction is today, and I’m fully acknowledging this accomplishment.

That was Mr. Ellison’s experience. It’s not mine.

Some of my first memories were going to the theater in 1983 to see Return of the Jedi. As an 80s child, I was exposed to so many space-faring books, TV shows, cartoons, movies, toys and video games. I was an only child, and I had a lot of friends who were into these same things. When I was by myself, if I felt troubled, sad, or happy, I could always get lost in whatever world I felt like wandering in.

My father passed away in 1989. For some reason, I was drawn to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I had already been watching it, but the show offered an escape from the sadness of that tragedy. It was comforting, and it helped me deal with the loss.

Throughout the 90s, as I was growing up, traveling, meeting people, having fun, working, going through heartache or depression, graduating high school and moving away from home for college, science fiction was still a part of my life.

In good times, I played video games with friends, and spent time with online friends arguing about Star Wars and Star Trek. In not-so-good times, I shut the world away and lost myself in the TV and movies of the time. I had tons of 6-hour VHS recordings of Star Trek and Mystery Science Theater that I could put in the VCR and let the world wash away.

There are key moments in my life where I can pinpoint which science fiction I was consuming at the time.

When my daughter was born in 2008, I was obsessed with Firefly, Star Trek: Enterprise, Doctor Who, and couldn’t help but daydream about optimistic futures.

I was heavily into The Expanse books and TV show when I was promoted to creative director in 2017. It was a time in which the influence of science fiction and design creativity was in overdrive.

The Wayfarer series of optimistic space novels got me through my divorce in 2019. I don’t know why I picked up those books back then. Just like in 1989, I was drawn to them, and it was the perfect fit of stories for that time in my life.

When I met my girlfriend in late 2021, the world was weird. I was all about the new Dune movie, experiencing Battlestar Galactica for the first time, and The Expanse novel series, which is a major influence on my writing, was coming to an end.

The takeaway of the final Expanse book was about humanity moving forward and making new connections while rediscovering itself, which was polarizing because my life was also moving forward, and I was rediscovering myself. Its an amazing personal parallel as I was falling in love with a woman who was helping me move forward. I’ll always associate one of my favorite books with the woman I love.

Some form of science fiction has always been a part of my life. Even in times when I was distracted or too busy to pay attention, it was always there when I returned. I can always count on science fiction to cheer me up, make me ponder our place in the universe, or escape to adventures in the stars.

A long time ago I decided I wanted to write science fiction and hopefully be published. My goal is to create stories that will also help someone through their troubles or be part of a person’s joy when they relax and want to be entertained. It will be my way of paying it forward.

Luis Vazquez @vazquez