Lessons learned from a post-apocalyptic society…

I have to confess up front: I don’t like post-apocalyptic stories. I don’t like them because watching my favorite characters struggle for survival hits too close to home. My daily experience is one of life and death in a microcosm–work can be very stressful at times. I have to make decisions and live with the consequences. So while I can appreciate finding common ground with favorite characters within a television show, I typically look for something lighter in my home entertainment.

I might be changing my tune soon.

A Wolverine Fan

A Wolverine Fan

I’ve spent this past weekend immersed in the fandom of Battlestar Galactica, and though I can legitimately call myself a fan through my love of the original show (which had me writing fanfiction for it, though I didn’t know at the time that this is what I was doing), I had some qualms about coming to Galacticon 3. Would it be all about the new series–of which I’d only seen half? Would it make fun of the original series that I adored so much, even as I can see now the inherent cheesiest within? I didn’t know.

A fan cosplays as Cylon Number Six

A fan cosplays as Cylon Number Six

I needn’t have worried. I met some of the most interesting people that I’ve ever encountered at a convention before. Young fans, even people who couldn’t have possibly watched the re-imaged series when it was on five years ago. Old fans, who embraced the original series with the same love that I had done. Science fictions fans have always struck me as being some of the most open-minded and tolerant people I’ve ever met–and I think it is because fans of the genre are open to the concept of alien cultures and different ways of thought. However, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the conversations I had with the most unlikely of people.

On a bus ride to the Johnson Space Center, Anna and I had a conversation with a fellow writer and historian, who despite being a native Texan and a white male of a ‘certain age’ decried the actions of the media and the GOP in demonizing the President and how everything boiled down to the protection of privilege and power—and that the things the GOP is telling us that Obama is trying to do cannot happen–there are checks and balances in places to prevent one man from making these kinds of sweeping changes that the GOP insists Obama is trying to do. The fact that he is African-American adds a frisson of terror to the scare-mongering–the threat that the era of the White Male Supremacy is over. It was an astonishing and enlightening conversation to have–but I did discount it slightly because, well, he was riding a bus on a Galacticon tour.

Hope for the future

And yet, astonishingly, I had another conversation with a native Texan that completely blew me away. Anna and I had entered the crowed bar the first night on our arrival–and not finding a table, she’d asked this man and his young adult son if we could join them. We’d covered the usual ground (what we were doing there, where we were from, etc) by the time his wife joined us–and then Anna boldly stated that we wrote M/M romance and were there to promote our work while hosting a writing workshop.

I could have died.

A President Laura Roslin Fan

A President Laura Roslin Fan

I wanted to take her by the arm and tell her we didn’t do that sort of thing in America. Not in Texas. To my utter surprise, not only were the parents receptive (the son was definitely distancing himself from the whole thing) but the wife took our contact information to give to her daughter who wanted to be a writer–and the father stated that his brother was gay. The next thing I know, we’re discussing why we write M/M romance and how yes, his brother might potentially want to read it.

Wow. Just wow. Because of my own blind spots, never in a million years would I have broached such a subject. Because Anna is from the UK, it probably didn’t occur to her to be circumspect about the sort of writing we do. And if I’d followed my own prejudices and biases, I’d have never had this conversation. And I’d have missed out on a wonderful opportunity to share with someone that there is a whole genre out there that his brother or daughter might be interested in learning more about. I found myself handing out business cards to someone that I would have assumed on meeting that he and I would have nothing in common–and I would have been wrong.

I’ve never been so glad to be wrong in my entire life.

Iron Man Fans

Iron Man Fans



12 thoughts on “Lessons learned from a post-apocalyptic society…

  1. Terrific blog entry. I’ve found the same thing. When I told people at work I wrote m/m, one employee immediately told me a friend wanted to write and wondered if they could contact me while my boss gleefully embraced it, because she supports marriage equality. The Church Lady didn’t say a word, but neither did she put me down or say anything negative.
    fenraven recently posted..Running Ourselves RaggedMy Profile

    • It was staggering to me. I would never have entertained the idea that I could have such a conversation with a native Texan–and particularly a man of his status and age. The conversations I had this weekend made me realize I’d bought into the media representation of the average Texan–and that coupled with my experiences in my home state made me *assume* that this man and I had nothing in common. What an eye-opening experience!

      I think most of us think the repercussions of revealing what we write are greater than they actually are–and fear keeps us ‘in the closet.’ Yes, there are people who would lose their jobs or clients based on what they write, but I don’t think it is as widespread as *we* think it is.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Lessons learned from a post-apocalyptic society…My Profile

  2. It’s fantastic that you met such open minded, intelligent people on your trip πŸ˜€ Texans do have a bit of a reputation, don’t they? I seem to remember watching an episode of this show – I think it’s called, “What would you do?” that took place in Texas. They had to actresses come in with children and pretend to be lesbians, and they had a (fake) waitress harass them to see if any of the patrons would step in. One person did step up and tell the waitress to stop, and many of the other patrons chimed in that she was being extremely rude (they repeated the experiment with two men, I think, and got the same results).

    Then they did the experiment in New York, and people were far less likely to step in if someone is being harassed than the people in Texas. (Of course, part of that might be the NY attitude of keeping to yourself; they pretty much ignore everyone when they’re out and about.)

    • It was fascinating to me to have my own personal biases be disproved. The man with his family wasn’t part of the convention; he was there for his son’s graduation. He kept calling the show “Battleship Galactica”! πŸ™‚ And yet he proved me wrong about my preconceived ideas regarding Texans in general, and so did other people I met this weekend.

      Plus it didn’t hurt to have so many people tell me how much I looked like Laura Roslin. πŸ˜‰
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Lessons learned from a post-apocalyptic society…My Profile

  3. New Yorkers do tend to distance ourselves from what’s going on around us, although if it rises to the level of physical confrontation my experience has been that someone will step in. I think it’s a psychological adaptation to the sheer number of people. If we actually engaged, I think we’d all go mad like rats in an overcrowded cage.

    Some of my favorite people in the world are open-minded texans. Molly Ivins used to say that to survive as a liberal in Texas you need a sturdy sense of humor, and if it’s not true you couldn’t prove it by me.

    • I can see why New Yorkers tend to distance themselves. I recall visiting my sister in NY and going to a local park with her. Across the field, a man sat a table and periodically engaged in conversation with passersby. As I watched, he stood up and put all his clothes back on (he’d been sitting in his underwear) and left the park. At the time, I was stunned and appalled–but my sister was rather blase about the whole thing.

      I’ve learned a lot since then, most of which I credit to the tolerance and acceptance I’ve been exposed to through online communities. I’ve learned far more about acceptance than I’ve witnessed intolerance, and that heartens me. πŸ™‚

    • LOL! I saw some amazing costumes this weekend! At one point, the convention center was hosting a lawyer’s graduation party at the same time as the sci-fi conventions, and there were some uptight stuffy types getting bent out of shape by the aliens, steampunkers, and furries walking past their party. I overheard someone speaking to the effect that they were wearing a $2 K dress to this event and they didn’t want their experience spoiled by ‘some woman in a cat suit.’ I remember thinking at the time I’d seen some costumes that probably cost every bit of $2 K and were FAR more memorable. πŸ˜€
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Lessons learned from a post-apocalyptic society…My Profile

      • I went to a con hotel shared by a group of Economic Historians. As we got in the elevator, all laughing and talking, one woman turned to her colleague and said, “I want to go to their convention!”

        • I think quite a few people we met in the hotel felt that way too! I have to say, it was weird this morning seeing only business suits again. It was kind of sad, actually.

          Aside from the ‘con let-down’ however, it was really good to come home. I had a really cool conversation with someone on the flight back, re-read Unspeakable Words, and am ready to start writing again. It’s good to be home!
          Sarah Madison recently posted..Testing…is this mike on?My Profile

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