Explaining science fiction to women

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Reader KevDog says:

Sweet Lord in Heaven, you have got to be every tech boy's dream come true. As I remember, you like Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Who, and several other Sci-Fi shows.

Can you, perchance, teach my wife the allure of such things? I have to watch BSG when she's not home. Let us not even speak of attempting to watch the Good Doctor.

In all things there are trade offs, I suppose. But make it happen and I will find a way to get you a Dalek. I'm not above bribery.

I'm afraid I'm not quite the dream girl I sound like: I also have an unfortunate addiction to designer jeans and expensive kitchen equipment, do spend more time than the average science fiction fan thinking about window treatments, and have only pared down my shoe habit by dint of becoming a vegan and thereby limiting my shopping selection to Target.

But yes, I love me some Doctor Who, some Firefly, just caught up on BSG, own two copies of the Oxfor Book of Science Fiction Short Stories, have four first edition Sandmans, and really haven't emotionally come to grips with the fact that I am never going to have superpowers.

What I'm saying is, there's hope. A love for feminine frippery can be, and frequently already is, paired with a love of laser guns. But even if it's not already there, I think it can be awakened. You just have to explain it right.

Those of you who pitch science fiction to wives and girlfriends who do not enjoy it are probably saying something along the following lines: "Space ships! Alien monsters! Men in tights!" Instead, for women who find that sort of thing distasteful, talk about it as a fairy tale--only a fairy tale with science instead of magic. The basic emotional space it taps is the same.

You might also try to ease her into something with a little more human emotion and a little less space opera--I'm very fond of George R. R. Martin's current gigantic series. As far as television goes, start with Firefly, then maybe BSG, and then slowly work your way up to Dr. Who. Do not, under any circumstances, unveil Sliders until you're sure she can handle it. Same with movies: Gattica before Blade Runner. Graphic novels: Sandman, not V for Vendetta. You get the idea.

Of course, to be fair, my father bought me all the Robert Heinlein juveniles and Isaac Asimov when I was about eight, so I am perhaps not the exact perfect person to ask. But I think science fiction is a habit that can be acquired if you go about it the right way. Every genre has its language, and the longer you've inhabited that genre, the more comfortable it feels. Try to make sure her first exposures are to primary readers, not college texts.

I assume this also goes for women paired with SF hating men. But I feel like that's a rather rarer combination.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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