Fantasy + Sci Fi + Monty Python = What?, In Which I Wax Abstract to No Good End

I spent a lot of time back when my children were only theoretical, hypothetical, or impending worrying about various things. What if they came out ugly? What would I do if I found a bong in their pockets? What if I had a boy who wanted to wear only girls clothes?

But it never occurred to me to think about what sort of literary tastes they would have. While I was aware that I had certain preferences as an adult (and even these, even now, I try to convince myself are judgments about quality rather than the more personal idiosyncrasies they almost certainly are), I guess I assumed that what I liked as a girl was just what girls liked, more or less. This even though I knew that my older sister LOVED Little Women/Anne of Green Gables/Five Little Peppers and went on to The Hobbit—all of which I roundly rejected at the time, because "I don't like stuff like that." It's sort of amazing what the mind will refuse to recognize as a challenge to what it fondly holds on to as "the truth."

Ah but now, now, this idea has taken hold of me and won't let go. For instance: what does it mean when a child prefers realistic fiction to fantasy? Why is there such a perceived connection between science fiction and nerdiness? Or is it more than perceived—is it cause and effect? And does that mean there is a connection between science fiction and intelligence? Why is a certain type of kid so much a sucker for Monty Python? And just what defines this certain type of kid?

I have questions, no answers. I see Diana going from one thing to another and it looks to me like a path: Pokemon >> Warriors >> Ursula K. LeGuin >> Monty Python >> where? But is she creating the path as she goes along, or following it? And if she's following it, how does she know to?

Probably—almost certainly—I am trying to read (ha ha!) too much into what is surely only taste. But what does "only taste" even mean?

If art means anything, then so does an aesthetic sense. But what exactly?

3 thoughts on “Fantasy + Sci Fi + Monty Python = What?, In Which I Wax Abstract to No Good End

  1. Excellent, Madeleine!
    It is hard to determine what’s cause and what’s effect. I’ve recently discovered a new sort of subset of fiction that I just love, and it’s opened up a new literary path for me, one I really didn’t see coming. But it’s a definite path. For example, I went to Amazon to see if there were any more books by the author of the one I really liked. There weren’t, but a reader review said “It’s okay, but nothing like this other series.” So I said okay, I’ll try the other series. Love it. And on the back of one, it says “Not since this other author has anyone written this well like this.” So now I have another author to check out. It’s not exactly the Monty Python path (which I went down myself), but there’s a definite path there. But I can tell you that I discovered Monty Python because my theater friends were into it, and Hitchhiker’s Guide because it was on my parents’ bookshelf. No one in authority suggested either one, but given who I am and the kinds of questions I was trying to answer right then, they were the best place to look. And though I grew up as a massive geek (I’m sure you couldn’t tell), I’m happy and lucky to have tried out so many different paths through the years.


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