Guest Blog Post: Do you have to be a nerd to read science fiction? by Author Clive Fleury

What do Leonard diCaprio, Nicolas Cage, Mila Kunis, Megan Fox, and Ben Stiller have in common? Yes, I know they all movie stars but besides that? They are all devotees, lovers of science fiction books and movies, in fact, everything science fiction. And yet none of them lack social skills, and they don’t seem the type to be boringly studious. I wouldn’t describe any of them as losers either. So what the heck are they doing liking sci-fi!

What do Leonard diCaprio, Nicolas Cage, Mila Kunis, Megan Fox, and Ben Stiller have in common? Yes, I know they all movie stars but besides that? They are all devotees, lovers of science fiction books and movies, in fact, everything science fiction. And yet none of them lack social skills, and they don’t seem the type to be boringly studious. I wouldn’t describe any of them as losers either. So what the heck are they doing liking sci-fi!

Some see science fiction and nerds as being like salt and pepper, bacon and eggs, and tables and chairs – twin words that are inseparable. And yet are they? Sure, some nerds like sci-fi. There’s no denying that. But just because some nerds enjoy drinking milk, that doesn’t mean that everyone who drinks milk is a nerd, does it? Of course not… except if you are French! They argue ‘Milk is for babies’. So, if you are not a baby and drink milk they presumably consider you beyond the pale—a nerd in fact. But then doesn’t that say more about France and the French than anything else? After all it’s a nation whose people seem to spend an inordinate amount of time carrying around baguettes, wearing berets, and eating cheese as a desert. Weird!

But back to nerds. And before anyone raises any PC objections let me say straight out—no I don’t have it in for nerds. I could say that ‘some of my best friends are nerds,’ but that would raise all kinds of warning signals. I’ll leave it at: I like nerds. In fact, should some maniac drop a nuclear bomb to wipe out all of humanity, I know nerds would suddenly become everyone’s best friends. Then the ability to ask a girl to dance, or wear skinny jeans wouldn’t be such a high priority. Instead, we’d look to nerds to supply answers to questions like- If most of the world has just become one giant barbecue what do we do next?

Actually, that’s the type of question that’s asked in a few science fiction books, including my own—Kill Code: A Science Fiction Dystopian Novel. (Sorry, I had to get the plugin.) Seeking answers in an entertaining form to these dilemmas is one of the attractions of science fiction. I mean have you ever thought about what life would be like on a neutron star? Well, author Robert Forward did, in his book ‘Dragon’s Egg’ and though Nerdish—Mark 4 on the Nerd scale—it reminds us that life can take many forms. And have you ever considered what it would be like if a pod of whales came to Earth dressed up as people? No? Well, Captain Kirk did in one more bizarre than usual Star Trek episode.  

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And on the subject of things taking different forms, I’ve read that Dr. Jane Goodall, the UN Messenger of Peace, and primatologist, believes ‘The Story of Doctor Dolittle’ and ‘Tarzan of the Apes’ are science fiction novels. Before you shout: ‘But that’s not science fiction,’ maybe you didn’t know many consider the Harry Potter books science fiction too. See, that’s the beauty of the genre, it traverses everything from life on Mars, to a world run by apes and magicians, and everyone has the freedom to define what exactly they think science fiction is.  

But, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and sci-fi is not for everyone. It produces some aggressive reactions. Someone once spat at me that she ‘detested science fiction books,’ and she is not alone. But what can you do with these haters? Burn them at the stake? I don’t think so! For all those who love the genre, don’t even bother to ask the obvious question—have you read any science fiction? You would be wasting your time. Sci-fi is like prunes, Brussels sprouts, and olives—something you either love or loathe.

So what are we to conclude from all this? Some nerds like science fiction books and movies. There’s no denying that. But so to do movie stars, scientists, fashionistas, politicians and on and on—actually a fairly large slice of the world. True, not as many as like romantic novels. Sci-fi books are country cousins to that tribe. But science fiction lovers still occupy a fair swathe of the population, of which nerds are just a sliver. So you definitely need not be a nerd to enjoy sci-fi!

Now that’s settled, please excuse me. I want to get back to reading Selin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft. I’m just getting to an exciting part.

About the Author

Clive Fleury is an award-winning writer of books and screenplays, and a TV and film director and producer.  He has worked for major broadcasters and studios on a wide variety of successful projects in the US, UK, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. Clive lives in Miami with his wife, his teenage daughter, and a cat called Louis.

© Clive Fleury 2019

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Interview with Author Clive Fleury

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My love for writing began at school. My English teacher often said that I should write a book, but I didn’t know what to write about. So I dismissed her encouragement as a fanciful dream. When I left University, I decided that maybe I should combine my love of music with writing and become a music journalist. Being naïve I didn’t really think about how hard that would be, and after countless attempts to get a job gave up and joined a market research company. Three months in, and hating the work, someone called me from one magazine I had applied for and said they had made a mistake and would like to hire me! I’ve no idea why that happened, but I didn’t hesitate. From there, after a series of lucky coincides I moved from journalism to researching TV documentaries, to directing documentaries, and then onto writing, directing and producing TV drama and feature films.

What inspired you to write your book?

Writing my book Kill Code was down to my pride. I always considered completing a book as being far too hard but had nurtured an idea for a novel for five years ago. I found countless excuses why I couldn’t start it, but finally, someone dared me to stop talking about it and just do it.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

In one sense Kill Code is a pessimistic novel.  The world it describes is one of the extremes of wealth and poverty, and of terrifying climate change.  But it is also about men and women’s resilience, courage and moral certitude. So I hope readers take away the message you should always listen to your heart and your conscience and go with them, whatever the consequences.

What drew you into this particular genre?

One of the interesting facets of the science fiction genre is that it is an ideal platform to explore ‘big themes’ while still allowing the author to tell an entertaining and exciting story.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Actually, I would like to talk with not one but two characters in Kill Code—the main protagonists Hogan Duran and Ruby Mason. They opt to reject a life of luxury for beliefs based on equality, liberty, and fraternity. I’m not convinced most people would make this choice, and I’d like to ask them how they had the strength to walk away from what looked like such an easy life.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Blogs, like this blog, are the lifeblood of authors.  We rely on passionate reviewers and reviews to encourage readers to take a chance on our books. Twitter too is important as it’s a platform used by many who are avid readers.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

There are many, many reasons not to write a book. You fear starting. You believe you don’t have the ability. You think you’ll never find a publisher or an agent. I could go on and on. The first thing to ask yourself though is: “Do I really, really want to do this.” A true writer will not be put off by fear and rejection.  That will simply make you stronger. The fact is writers have no choice but to write. It’s something you crave and have to do. So start typing, ignore the naysayers and just do it!

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Benjamin Franklin once said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. So, the future definitely holds those in store for me! But that aside, I am currently completing the second book in the ‘Code’ trilogy, and I have my fingers crossed that all you readers out there will buy it and enjoy it.

About the Author

Clive Fleury is an award-winning writer of books and screenplays, and a TV and film director and producer.  He has worked for major broadcasters and studios on a wide variety of successful projects in the US, UK, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. Clive lives in Miami with his wife, his teenage daughter, and a cat called Louis.