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(GUEST POST! Yes, I have bothered a lovely author into writing up her thoughts on science fiction, girls, boys and girls being friends with boys. Let’s have a round of applause for Cecil Castellucci! Once upon a time I very nearly worked with Cecil, as she was the writer of the Minx books The Plain Janes and Janes in Love. Before Minx was cancelled, a third Plain Janes book was planned, and I was offered the job inking over top Jim Rugg’s breakdowns. But at the time I was already drawing Brain Camp and still had a full time job, so I had to pass. Sniff!  I enjoy Miss Cecil’s work, and knew she would have some interesting things to say about, well, science fiction, girls, boys and girls being friends with boys.)

I have always loved science fiction movies.

There is something kind of delicious about having a life long geek love affair with  science fiction movies. I grew up on them.  They are the breakfast, lunch and dinner of my soul.   I don’t ever remember thinking that I was nerdy because of it.  I just felt that a movie with an alien in it, or a space ship, or a field of stars, or the setting foot on another planet was the best kind of movie.   Maybe the only kind of movie.  I could blame it on Star Wars.  I blame most of my space love on Star Wars, but I think that would be too simple.   Probably the Disney Saturday matinee that my dad used to take me and brother to so my mom could study for her PhD every weekend was the true culprit.  While a lot of those movies weren’t technically science fiction movies, many of them had fantastical elements to them, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Freaky Friday, the Herbie movies, and Escape to Witch Mountain.  And the first boys that I ever talked to about those sci fi elements with were my brother and my dad.  We’d go get lunch and my brother and I would freak out and my scientist dad would indulge our excitement by trying to explain the possibilities of real science in the magic.

And the conversation didn’t end when we’d go home.  My brother and I would spend hours, days, weeks, months talking about the movies we’d see.  We’d deconstruct them.  We’d imagine our own fantastical elements.  We’d pretend that we were the lost alien children living on Earth.  We’d come up with our own stories or our own sequels.  Once 1977 arrived, with Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind our course was set.  We had begun a life long conversation about science fiction, which we continue to this day.

And it strikes me now that perhaps one of the best and luckiest things about growing up as a geek girl was having a brother.  So many of the things that I liked were not considered girly.  They were considered to be the terrain of boys.  I’ve often spoken of how sometimes I would keep my more boyish books, toys and ideas on my brothers bookshelf.  I always thought of his room as an extension of mine.  Where I had frills and lace in mine, that was not the whole me.  I spilled over into his more action themed room.  I was comfortable there.  I liked action figures and Barbie dolls.   I liked tea sets and space ships.  I liked ballet and Godzilla.  I was lucky that I had girl friends in middle school and high school who accepted my geekiness.  But though they accepted it, or perhaps more precisely tolerated my excitement about movies, they did not wholly share my enthusiasm.   And often times I saw their eyes glaze over as I tried to engage them with what I thought was truly cool.  And when I could not talk to them, I could always talk to my brother.  Because he knew.  He still does.

But in High School, I learned that while me and my girlfriends might have a crush on this boy and we would try so hard to figure out how to talk to them, I had an advantage that the prettiest of girls did not have. The boys may have had their eyes on my friends whom they dated, but they always wanted to talk to me.  Because with me, they could talk about sci fi movies passionately and not be judged.  I understood why such and such a shot was important.  Why Bladerunner was cool.  Why Ripley kicked ass.  Why Return of the Jedi was stupid.  Why Solaris was amazing.   And my love of science fiction films had done something else to me.  They’d turned me into a cinephile.

And now, a million years later nothing has really changed.  It is still my greatest joy to be friends with boys and talk about sci fi movies all through the night.  Only now, there’s usually a beer involved.

Cecil Castellucci is the author of numerous young adult novels including Boy Proof (about a girl who loves science fiction films!)  She also wrote The Plain Janes / Janes in Love graphic novels illustrated by Jim Rugg.  Her newest novel is First Day on Earth and it’s her first maybe it is or maybe it isn’t sci fi novel.   For more www.misscecil.com

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14 Responses

  1. Vinca5 says:

    (Looks up Patti Smith, is instantly in love)

  2. Ed Sizemore says:

    Vinca5,
    That Patti Smith isn’t as well known as Madonna or Beyonce is heartbreaking. Glad you discovered her.

    Cecil,
    Great essay.

  3. Angela says:

    You know, I think reading this I just realized why I was so quiet, didn’t talk much, in highschool. A lot of the stuff I was interested in – art, sci-fi, horses – for some reason most of my friends (boys and girls) did not seem to be into. So I never had anything to say. I would just listen to them talk.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Yeah, same with me. It’s also possible that the people interested in those things might see them as geeky, and not want to advertise their interest. It’s a lot easier to now find adults into geeky things than it was to find teens into them when I was in high school.

    • yes, it’s not just a girl-problem. it’s a geek problem, i guess. in my school most people tried to be an alcoholic as fast as possible, had not much other interests and made fun of the sound effects in the comics i read on the bus.
      they were basically nice but i never got much involved. the nerdiest people there were some basic level audiophiles.

      makes one cherish the books and films one loves even more, though.

  4. staticgirl says:

    I agree with Cecil wholeheartedly. I was also lucky in that there were girls comics (in the UK) which featured sci-fi and horror stories of surpassing weirdness when I was little too. I also grew up a little isolated by my passions ‘cos in my school’s case the boys weren’t into the same stuff as me as well as the girls.

    I’m just thankful for the internet. It helped me finally reach out to my tribe.

  5. Agata says:

    I was geek into high school but I didn’t even know this term. It was really hard to find people who share the same interests: comics, anime, games – eccept my bro.
    I guess that adults are more ‘flexible’ – friends just let you to talk how awesome is “Alien” or “Blade Runner” even if they don’t share the same interests.

  6. Emily says:

    Oh I love Plain Janes! It would have been awesome to see one of my favourite Minx series writers with one of my favourite comic artists. I’m still sad that Minx shut down :(
    My brother and I are very similar to you, Cecil. We love to talk about movies. We’ve had crazy debates about movies, we’ve had educated discussions about them too. Him being a movie buff, and me being very analytical, we make a great movie discussion team, and tend to point things out about movies that the other wouldn’t notice. Movies-of any genre-have really helped us bond (even if he’s a jerk at the theatre!)
    Whether being geek girl and being able to talk to guys has benefited me much, that’s debatable. But it’s still fun!

  7. cecil says:

    thanks guys! it was fun to think about and thanks to the fabulous Faith Erin Hicks for writing/drawing such a deliciously good story.

  8. Vanessa says:

    It’s interesting to read perspectives on what it’s like to like “boy” things. I went to a partciilarly nerdy high school in silicon valley, and as a girl that loved comics, anime, and manga as well as tons of sci fi, I was pretty much the standard. Though the popular girls still loved make-up and cosmo, the rest of us played final fantasy seven and crushed after Cloud. I guess for that reason I’ve never considered science fiction to be only for the boys; in fact, with the exception of Ray Bradbury, all my favorite sci-fi authors are females! (Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover, anyone?). I think it can be perfectly girly to like these things, and I totally don’t think it automatically makes you a tomboy.

  9. Klaat says:

    I am also a girl who grew up loving scifi! MST3K was my big one and it was actually my mom who got me watching it. I think part of it was some of the cartoons on at the time too, such as Courage the Cowardly Dog and Aaah! Real Monsters and PPG. I enjoy it even more than my brother, even. I was lucky though when it came to video games though, that was the one thing both my brother and I had a passion for and I hardly knew anyone, of either gender, who didn’t at least play the Pokemon games. Cartoons would be my truly unlucky area though, as I love them dearly and hardly anyone watches past the MLP:FiM trend.

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