Monday, July 1, 2013

18: SciFi is Not for Sissies; Westercon 66: A Skeptic Comes Home

Roman Polanski

Akrabu and the Chinatown Solution

Earlier this morning I went to my final appointment with noted science fiction counselor Dr. Akrabu.  As discussed at the beginning of this blog series, he diagnosed me earlier in the year with Scientifiction Trauma Disorder, and in late May, as part of my “recovery”, told me to read all five 2013 Hugo nominees in one month.  Needless to say, he was upset that I hadn’t succeeded.  He saw fit to initiate a final approach to “help” me.  The following occurred in the ending moments of my session.

Dr. Akrabu: So then what do you call a story set in the future, where a sixth of the United States has become a toxic dump, and portions of the populace are so addicted to television they can die from watching certain shows?
Mr. Fuller: I guess I’d call it science fiction.
DA: Of course you would!  And would you have read such a book ten years ago?
MF: I’ve told you, Doctor, I stopped reading science fiction thirty years ago!
DA: And yet you did read such a book and in fact have told me it’s now one of the best books you’ve read in your life!

I was sweating, my blood pressure was up, and my anxiety level was sky high.  I couldn’t think straight.

MF: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
DA: Infinite Jest, Mr. Fuller!  Your so-called favorite modern book whose name you drop whenever you can, trying to impress people with your erudition and intellect!  Your favorite serious “mainstream” book is SCIENCE FICTION!  You were, have been, and still are a FAN!  Please don’t give me any more crap about this!

I found myself trembling.

MF: No, doctor, you’re wrong, Jest isn’t science fiction and I’m not a fan, I’m a serious reader.

Akrabu seemed charged with anger.  He got up from his love seat, leaned over my chair, and slapped me.  I was aghast.  He has used eccentric methods before, but never physical violence.  The blow brought tears to my eyes.

DA: The truth, Mr. Fuller!  I said the truth!
MF: Okay, I did enjoy the books this month, maybe I still have some fan in me?

The doctor slapped me again.

MF: No, dammit, I’m a READER!

Another slap.

MF: A fan, a reader, a fan, a reader…

The doctor grabbed my by the new SASSAFRASS shirt I was wearing, and yanked me up, screaming into my face.

DA: I said I want the truth!

I collapsed on the sofa, sobbing.

MF:  All right!  I’m a reader AND I’m still a fan!  I can see it now!  I’ve never really shed it!  It never really left me!

The session ended shortly thereafter.  Feeling humiliated and shattered, I went straight to a Dear Friend’s (DF) house.  Seeing how irrational I looked and acted, he opened a bottle of Crown Royal and I told him about my session. 

MF: That wasn’t right, I’ll kill him!
Dear Friend: Take it easy, take it easy, it was part of the therapy.
MF: Therapy? 

I looked down into my half empty glass, horrified.  I saw the doctor’s face in the whiskey.

MF: Get him away from me!  He’s responsible for everything!  Get him away from me!
DF: Bill, you’re very disturbed.  You’re acting crazy now.  You wanna do yourself the biggest favor of your life?  Calm down.  You can stay here as long as you want.  I’m with you now. 

Then he gave me a bear hug I’ll never forget.

DF: Forget it, Bill.  It’s only science fiction.

To Be Concluded

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