The focus on male writers in the science fiction genre has been going on far too long. Find out challenges and successes for female sci-fi authors.
Some of you will remember my last post was on the importance of expressing your feelings for those who give meaning to our lives. Today, I decided to write about the other side of the coin-those relationships that do not work out the way we hope. Most of us are not lucky enough to find “the one” on the first try, or have lived happily ever after without effort on our parts.
For every great successful love story, there is “the one that got away” or the “star-crossed lovers” that we all hope to avoid in our own lives, but are more than ready to cry over when it happens to our favorite fictional characters.
The concept of the “star-crossed” lovers is hardly a new notion. Early myths detail stories of relationships that never had a chance thanks to outside forces like jealous gods (such as the Greek story of Artemis and Orion) or terrible monsters (the Norse Beowulf). Classic literature details heroes and heroines who could not make love last (think Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and their feuding families; or Hamlet and Ophelia, separated by revenge and madness).
Our ancestors hardly have a monopoly on stories where the hero did not get the girl, either. Modern media portrays a constant stream of relationships that face impossible odds of success. From the agonizing love triangle of Casablanca, to Jack and Rose whose relationship failed thanks to the Titanic colliding with an iceberg, to Buffy and Angel who could not be together because Angel would lose his soul, to Thor who was separated from Jane by his godhood and a broken trans-world portal.
So why are we attracted to tragedy? All of these characters have qualities we hope to see in ourselves. We share in their optimism, their passion, and their aspirations. They seemingly have a chance at love, but face insurmountable obstacles that ultimately result in tragedy. We root for them when they are happy, we cry with them when they are sad, and feel their losses when they are torn apart. We feel a connection to them in a way we could not if they did not experience grief and strife, because that is what makes them more human.
It is these very human qualities that we can identify with; because the characters of a tragedy do not end with happily ever after, they are all the more realistic and important to us.
So pull out a box of tissues and watch your favorite sob story. Reminisce with someone about the hardships you’ve faced in your own life, which hopefully have made you stronger and better prepared for the next challenge. Take heart in the impossible odds others have faced, and know you are not alone.
Until next time,
I sat down to write a post about the most obvious topic of all for today-love. That is something we all consider on Valentine’s Day, whether we choose to acknowledge it as a legitimate holiday or not. It’s all too easy to take a cynical approach and call it a “holiday made up by the greeting card companies” because of its hype based around heart-shaped and chocolate wares, but the holiday has been around far longer the commercialism of the twentieth century.
In the past what we now call Valentine’s Day held other meanings, from pagan beginnings that involved blood sacrifices and fertility rituals, to martyred saints. Interestingly paper cards to celebrate the day have actually been around since the Middle Ages.[i]
The main purpose of the holiday as we know it, however, is love; to be celebrated, contemplated, longed for. It is a day to cherish those who share our lives, whether they are spouses, lovers, family, or friends. How exactly we choose to express our feelings about them holds as many options as there are relations out there.
So how do you pick from the multitude of merchandise, from the plethora of songs, from the abundance of flowers, to the profusion of restaurants offering packages just for this one day? How do you choose to show the one(s) you care about the most how you feel? Do you even need to spend money to convey your feelings, or can you find a better way to express your love?
The most important thing to consider is the object of your affections. What will they appreciate the most? Are they certified chocoholics, or have some other weakness you can use to your advantage? Do they prefer to go out, or spend a quiet evening at home? The best gift is one tailored especially to your love, whatever that may be.
And while you are choosing something special your valentine will appreciate, don’t forget to insert a little of your own unique personality as well. Those who return our affections will be most impressed with a gift that celebrates what the two of you have in common, or that that show an investment of thought and time from the giver.
Don’t despair if you’ve put off marking this day to the very last minute-there’s still time to text or to go old school and make a handwritten card with a special message, or plan a special meal, even if that is just a heart-shaped pizza and a favorite dessert. Put on the radio, light some candles, and dance with your special people. Face time if you can’t be together. Watch a movie you love. Above all, put into words just exactly what these individuals mean to you, how much you appreciate them today, and always.
However you choose to celebrate it, Happy Valentine’s Day to you all.
[i] For more information on the history of Valentine’s Day see this link: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day
Adrian Daub’s fascinating essay in the LA Review of Books on the Stephen King classic IT — now 30 years old — reveals that the real horror of IT wasn’t Pennywise the supernatural clown, but our own, entirely human ability to forget the horrors of the past.
Okay, I admit it, I never actually read the book myself. I did however, watch the miniseries made about it, and had nightmares for months after. Who would imagine that a clown, the very image of childhood innocence and fun, could be so terrifying? Perhaps that was Stephen King’s intent. Who would expect the icon of circuses and birthday parties could embody evil?
What monsters of books or screen terrify you the most? I’d love to hear from you.