(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