So, I've been trying the online dating scene for a bit now and I've been trying to meet people, send messages, etc.
A user I'd never met sent me a message today containing one sentence: "why is it that every boy who likes to read likes ray bradbury?"
My first thought? "Well, shit, when did I become the ambassador of all mankind, let alone those who read sci-fi?" I've never really been a stereotypical "man" so I was a little surprised. I thought about responding with a quip or something.
But then I thought a little more and came up with something that I hope was a decent response. I was a little surprised because I had never really thought about sci-fi in this way and its one of those moments of true clarity where I see what Vassar taught me and how much I've changed since going to college.
Anywho, here's my response. I'd love to know what you all think about the issue!
Interesting question... my first thought was: "Well, I don't speak for every guy who reads, let alone every guy in general" but then I got to thinking about it and I think I have a start of an answer for you:
Sci-fi has traditionally appealed to the heterosexual male population, it being its principal audience. Think about early sci-fi: Buck Rogers, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. All have very strong male characters (though the best also had strong female characters; think Princess Leia!) and an emphasis on high adventure. Thirst for adventure is a quality our society prized in male children and, to a certain degree, discouraged in female children. There are some obvious exceptions (Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder) but no real sci-fi presence.
In fact, I'd say sci-fi and comic books have traditionally appealed to a similar, heterosexual-male demographic.
But all of that is changing. Every major sci-fi publication (TV, movies, books) have very positive, strong female role models. And it doesn't even end there: Sci-fi has become a truly multicultural, gender- and sexuality-inclusive genre. And the audience it appeals to is broadening significantly. If you saw the new Star Trek movie in theaters you'll know what I'm talking about. Men and women were both in the audience and it was actually the women who seemed most excited after initially entering totally non-excited.
Also, Bradbury tends to be a staple of most secondary-school English curriculums.
So it's a shame that Bradbury seems to be a male (heterosexual at that)-only trait on here... If you can accept the historical bias against a female audience, Bradbury and his ilk (Clarke, Asimov, Sagan) make for truly kickass reading. They inspire the imagination; challenge the reader's perception of reality and the status quo; fire up your dreams; and help you escape the mundane and the ordinary.
I also wish female sci-fi authors such as Ursula Le Guin would be elevated to stand with the titans of the field. There's such wonderful literature there that many people don't know exist.
I also wish it were more acceptable for men to grow up reading books like Little Girl on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, and any of Jane Austin's books without fear of being called gay. They're great books and really give you a vivid picture of a slice of society during the times in which they were written."