The year was 1977. And Dad had always been disappointed by science fiction films.
Can you blame him? A physicist and engineer by trade, he could only look at modest special effects, limited grasp of science, and slow pace of the films of the time (Logan's Run and Futureworld come to mind) and sigh.
“Son,” he said to me, “I know you're excited about seeing this film. But don't be too disappointed. There are going to be little green men with pointy ears and ray guns. They'll shoot each other... and that's about it.”
A couple of hours later we were back in the car, silent and looking at each other with wide eyes.
“Wow.” I said.
“Yeah. Wow.” he replied. “Not what I expected.”
Little did I know that at the tender age of seven I had become seriously hooked on science fiction – and, in short order, this grew to include its sister genres of fantasy and horror. Since I belonged (and still belong) to a family of avid readers, making the move at an early age from watching science fiction movies to reading genre books was a natural one. My parents started me out with Tom Swift books, and I moved rather rapidly on my own to authors like Issac Asimov, Heinlein, HP Lovecraft, CS Lewis, and Jack Vance. At the age of twelve I was particularly enamored by Vance's Demon Prince books. They were dated even when I was reading them in the 1980's (Guiding a starship by slide rule? Really?) and Vance knew it, but the whole “manly revenge on galactic supervillains” thing was about as much awesome as a preteen boy can handle without actually hurting himself.
Though I'm now much older (thought apparently not much wiser), I've never lost my love of science fiction as a genre. It's always appeared to me to be the least constricted of the fiction genres, able to effortlessly absorb contain other genres, whereas the reverse is not necessarily true. For example, you can easily put swords & sorcery style fantasy into a scifi story by simply having the characters travel to a world where such things are the norm. You can introduce horror into a scifi by having the characters chased through a derelict spaceship by an alien creature, or politics into it by using a future civilization to highlight problems in our current society. All of these things are still considered science fiction. But if you reverse the situation – say, put spaceships into a fantasy novel or aliens into a political novel – they are instantly considered science fiction, and are politely asked by the rest of the genre to leave the building.
Like snarkiness, science fiction pretty much creeps into everything I write, asked or unasked. So when I decided to write a novel highlighting some of my problems with urbanization, world wide civilization, and our treatment of the mentally handicapped, it was an easy choice. Nakba is a novel about all of these things, and a space opera as well. So besides the usual spaceships, heroes, and villains it also contains the usual menagerie of displaced oddness that you'll find in any of my books: French feminist clones, obsessive holograms, African tribesmen on Mars, renegade Japanese sex robots, and Russian Suprematism to name a few. It couldn't be anything other than a science fiction novel, to be honest.
So if you might enjoy reading a science fiction novel that tries to juggle social criticism, thoughts about heroism, and general abnormality in the unsteady arms of an exurban desert recluse (moi), think about picking up Nakba. With any luck it will leave you wide-eyed in the rain, glasses fogged up, and possibly sporting giant Issac Asimov sideburns.
Jason S. Walters is an author, essayist, and publisher best known for running Indie Press Revolution (IPR), a distributor of micro-published roleplaying games. He is also one of a small group of investors that purchased Hero Games in 2001, and serves as its general manager. After owning a San Francisco bike messenger service for 15 years, he and his wife Tina moved to Midian Ranch: a homestead near the town of Gerlach, Nevada. It is also the location of IPR’s warehousing complex. They have a daughter with Down syndrome named Cassidy and animals too numerous to mention.
A thousand years ago humanity’s dissidents fled, leaving behind a peaceful, unified world content to exist in a state of perpetual hedonism. Then a daring escape plunged civilization into chaos, forcing its rulers to expand outward to maintain order. Now all that stands between a newly imperial Earth and the rest of the solar system is a loose coalition of Maasai tribesmen, cloned feminists, shape-shifting humannequins, and vengeful Berbers led by the least likely hero in human history: a young woman with Down syndrome and a bad attitude.
In the desert life is hard. It can also be surreal. In the absence of congestion and convention, imagination takes you by the hand: or the balls. In this macabre collection of riveting tales, ENnie Award-nominated author Jason S. Walters grabs the reins of storytelling as if it were a wild stallion, leading the reader ever deeper into the physical and spiritual wasteland of the Black Rock Desert.