If my knowledge of US holidays is correct, Thanksgiving is this week. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK because we tend to associate it with US history and government that took place after America broke off from the British Empire. I think. I’m not actually too sure about that. But we do have harvest festivals, but that’s more of a religious thing because a lot of churches take donations of food to give to homeless shelters in the colder months. As far as the UK is concerned, once it’s past the 5th of November, it’s Christmas whether we like it or not.
It is still November, and therefore Sci-Fi Month, so I decided to take this week’s freebie prompt and give it a sci-fi twist by talking about sci-fi media that I’m thankful for. What exactly does ‘thankful’ mean in this scenario? I’m not exactly sure.
Man of Steel – I am very much aware that Man of Steel is a polarising movie, and that’s fine because not everyone will like something. But Man of Steel is a very important movie to me because it was the first time that I was actually able to relate to Superman, a character who constantly gets called “unrelatable” because he’s an alien with superpowers. Seeing the struggles that Clark has growing up as a complete outsider and not understanding why he is so different from the people around him is very similar to my childhood growing up as an undiagnosed autistic person. To me, this movie doesn’t make Superman “edgy” or “angsty” by showing that growing up when you’re different is difficult, it makes him so much more human than actual human superheroes because the kindness that Superman has always shown is still there, it’s just expanded to more than saving kittens from trees while grinning like a maniac.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – Uglies isn’t just the book that got me into reading sci-fi instead of just watching it, it was the book that got me into reading more often. I was 11 when I read Uglies for the first time, and now I’m 24 and the series still hasn’t left me. There are still parts of me that wishes I could go through the pretty surgery, but that part of me completely missed the point of the books.
Alien – For the longest time I refused to watch this movie because I thought it was too scary for me. Fast forward to now, Alien is one of my favourite movies ever and I make a point to watch it every year for either Spooky Month or Sci-Fi Month because it is perfect for both of those times. I do still think this movie is scary – which is why it’s my favourite of all of them – but the first time I watched it, I couldn’t sleep. Since watching this, I’ve become more open to sci-fi crossing over with horror, because space really is a terrifying place.
Dragon Ball Z – Dragon Ball as a franchise is very difficult to put into one single genre because there’s so much going on in it. You have magic flying clouds, shapeshifters, robots, aliens, genies, gods, the afterlife, people with three eyes, and the king of the world is an anthropomorphic dog. It’s very strange, but Dragon Ball Z feels definitely more focused on sci-fi for the most part (before we get to the final arc with the genies) and it was one of the first anime I’d ever seen and my brother and I watched it religiously when we were kids back when Toonami UK was still a thing.
Cowboy Bebop – Outside of DBZ and possibly Sailor Moon, I wasn’t well-versed in sci-fi anime until I watched Cowboy Bebop a couple of years ago. I’ve still only watched it once because the ending absolutely killed me, but it has stuck with me because it’s more than just a sci-fi anime. Here we have themes of existentialism, loneliness, revenge, and there’s a lot of mashing up of genres that makes something unique. Also, the English dub is top tier quality. Even if you’re the kind of person who gives English dubs a hard time, watching this in English because it’s incredibly well done.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – I’m not exactly sure if 1984 can truly count as a sci-fi book because even though it is a dystopian novel and takes place in the (then) future, there’s not a lot of typical sci-fi stuff going on as the focus is more on politics. I first read this book when I was 14 years old and it has stuck with me for a long time. I’ve studied this book twice and although I would expect that to make me like it less, it actually made me like it more because it helped me to understand it even more.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – A lot of people consider Frankenstein to be the first sci-fi novel, but I focus more on the Gothic parts of Frankenstein, but I will still include it because I can see where people are coming from. Frankenstein is one of those rare books that I had to read for school that ended up becoming a favourite of mine, and I’ve studied this one three times. This is a book that has so many layers to it that when you start to look into it, it becomes more than a spooky story about some guy who didn’t even have Bachelors degree building his own person and then abandoning it when he gets scared by it.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – Before I read Cinder I was very cynical about fairytale retellings because I thought that they were just lazy ways of coming up with an idea for a novel. Now that I’ve read this series, I can see that a lot of authors who write retellings are incredibly creative because they have to come up with a way to subvert what we think of the original story. Here, Cinder is abused by her awful stepmother, but she only has one horrible stepsister rather than two, and she’s more of a fighter than people expect a Cinderella character to be. The same can be said for the title characters of each book, really.