As anyone who is anyone knows, today is a National Holiday, May 4th, where Jedi, Sith, Bounty Hunters, and Wookies (do you add an 's'?) salute each other, "May the Fourth be with you!" I thought it a great time to discuss the impact that Science Fiction has had on my life.
My earliest scifi memories are of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Picture it. Vonore. 1987. (my wife just smiled at that intro) A five-year-old boy and his older brother are watching a beardless Will Riker discover the truth behind Farpoint Station and the awesomeness that is a "Saucer Separation". Thus began my scifi love affair, and in particular many episodes of Star Trek with the aformentioned brother. I was there with DS9 and the myriad instances of Ferengi earlobes. I was frustrated with Voyager coming on UPN30 and having to use aluminum foil to get a barely watchable signal because we didn't have cable. I watched all the movies, and regardless of the critics' viewpoints still get excited when Zefram Cochrane gets to warp speed. Star Trek: Enterprise, honestly.... I missed it. By then I was in college and it was on my radar but so was life. However, I retain my geek status by the fact that I've watch most of the episodes on Netflix.
WAIT! You've not even mentioned Star Wars. This is May 4th. You have to make this about Star Wars. Oh, let me tell you, Star Wars was watched. I'm not sure if it still is, but do you know how often Star Wars marathons came on growing up? I didn't even have cable most of my life and it seems like it was on all the time. Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi are three of my all time favorite movies. They were awesome! The prequel trilogy.... meh. I watched Phantom Menace. Never saw the other two. Probably never will, to be honest. On top of the movies, the Star Wars book universe was my first foray into real scifi novels (I know, some are debatable). When I was 12, I owned around 22 books in various series. I remember devouring the Young Jedi Knight series, but I also read the Thrawn Trilogy, the X-Wing series, etc.
Outside of Star Wars/Trek, the memories are fewer but the Force is still strong with them. I flew with The Last Starfighter, rode with the Transformers, had my mind blown with the Matrix, and manipulated Roger Wilco. I was glued to Gradius (or some other, or multiple others of the same basic genre), and Knights of the Old Republic still makes me smile (literally, just bought it on the Steam sale). Comic books also have their niche in my memories. I collected them, getting a couple hundred I think, up until they just got too expensive. The recent Marvel movies give me that inner smile that also accompanies playing a Mario game :). I rode with Jules Verne under the sea and into Earth's core.
Science fiction (and its cousin, Fantasy) played a huge role in my development. I was never at a loss for dreams and stories. Always in the back of my mind (and in the front most days), were the characters of a story, or a show, or a game. It's influenced my theology, my perceptions of reality, and my world view in countless other way. As a Christian, I've had to come to terms with science, and the ever expansive world of speculative fiction was often the glass I was looking into as I went through my education.
So, on this May the 4th, I salute you SciFi! You have been my co-adventurer these many years. May the Fourth Be With You!