Sororities and Sci Fi

September 3, 2011 § 2 Comments

“You are taking a class called what?”

Somehow I knew that I would get that reaction. There are both true and false stereotypes of sorority girls, but for anyone who identifies as a 20-year old blonde sorority girl, taking a class called science fiction is not exactly the norm. I figured I had two options: let my sorority sisters find out on their own, which they undoubtedly would, or control the means by which they heard the information. Being in control of the information, particularly when it has the potential to be controversial, always seems like the more logical alternative. Most of my good friends had already learned to accept me as a nerd, and even love me for it, but I don’t think they realized just how deep the nerd in me ran until I had to answer their follow-up question.

“You mean like Star Trek?”

This may have been the perfect time to explain to them that because of exposure to the genre at a young age, I actually enjoy reading and watching science fiction. That I grew up watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with my brother. That I own a copy of every book that Ray Bradbury has ever written. That right now I am halfway through Ender’s Game, rereading it for the third time. No, instead I gave the simple answer.

“Yeah, like Star Trek.”

Parties. Sorority functions. T-shirts. Surely, there are more worthwhile and, frankly, more exciting things to think about. At what speed and in what direction will technological innovation take us? What will our primary identification be in the future: religion, cultural affiliation, home country, home planet? How will we globally adapt to an event of catastrophic proportions? What if…? Not exactly the same thing as wondering which fraternity party to go to on Friday. Perhaps this is wondering about the possibilities which attracts me to science fiction: when the world is only as large as the boundaries of Vanderbilt campus, it is not quite as fun to live in.

I then proceeded to (attempt to) defend science fiction to my sorority sisters. It was not a long conversation. As anyone who has spent extended time around women would understand, the topic changes about every twenty seconds, with sub-conversations dropped and brought up again throughout, and all men present in the conversation just struggle to keep up. Although they nodded, smiled, and laughed at me, I could tell that they probably did not understand what drew me to the genre. At the very least, they accepted it.

It is easy to say that fiction is a welcome distraction for me from Vanderbilt life. Being a political science and history major, the reading is straightforward, instructional, and above all, dry. Socially, reading is not on my list of priorities. Although we have already read twenty perfectly legitimate definitions of it, to me, science fiction is the realization that the world is infinite. Because of this, I believe science fiction is a genre that based more in reality than any other type of fiction. Could it be that my life at Vanderbilt is simply the distraction?  Perhaps the deeper, more important questions are the ones that just happen to be embedded in science fiction.

-Libby

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