Like all science fiction and fantasy fans, the spirits speak to me. They whisper with visions of impossible worlds and distant galaxies. They spin dreams of the future and past and even of times that never were.
The spirits speak through stories and books, films and TV shows, comic books and video games. The spirits whisper in the words and creations of authors and artists and dreamers from around the world.
And the spirits bring me joy.
But sometimes the spirits also bring pain, such as when I want to share my love of SF/F with others. Social media and online platforms allow me to interact with countless genre fans, but at times they also bring the worst of our genre directly to my virtual doorstep. Anger and hate and personal attacks and just plain old nastiness. There have been many days where I’ve waded out of the online SF/F muck and wondered why I even bother.
Until I remember the people. The wonderful, amazing people who make up the SF/F genre.
People who have recommended new books and films for me to enjoy.
People who have discussed obscure SF points with me over beer at conventions.
People who have sent emoji happiness and virtual hugs when I’m feeling down.
People who have written to say how much they loved my stories.
People who have said “We get you” and “You’re one of us.”
People who deeply believe that the first step toward changing our reality is to see another reality.
People whom I’ve never met in person yet who are still among my truest friends.
People who write fanfic and original stories and reviews and create art and comics and podcasts and put on conventions and so much more, all out of a deep love for science fiction and fantasy.
Our genre would be nothing without the people who make up our genre.
The ability of social media to amplify hate and anger makes it easy to forget all the great people in our genre. But they are still there. They’re always there.
And that’s what brings me joy. The amazing kindred spirits — the amazing people — of the SF/F genre.
Jason Sanford is a two-time finalist for the Nebula Award and has published dozens of stories in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, InterGalactic Medicine Show, Interzone, and other places, along with appearances in multiple “year’s best” anthologies and other books. His fiction has been translated into various languages including Chinese, Spanish, French, Russian, Polish, and Czech. His website is www.jasonsanford.com.