Opinion: Matthew Munson – Exploring creative new worlds

Creating new worlds

Science fiction and fantasy. Words enough to send shivers up the spines of many. It’s seen as the property entirely of nerdy geeks with pimples who live in their mothers’ basements and survive on a diet of pizza and darkness whilst shouting into an internet connection.

But more people are fans than you might give credit for; some might still be “in the closet”, so to speak, but secretly enjoy a spot of Dr Who on a Saturday evening or followed Game of Thrones religiously every week and talked about it at work the following day. If that’s not being a fan, then I don’t know what is.

I love pretty much all modern sci-fi and fantasy; the historic stuff not so much, being of the wobbly sets style that makes you cringe as much as stilted scripts saying, “Golly gosh” and all that dated language. As an aside, I do wonder if that was ever used very widely outside of TV-Land.

I grew up on a diet of Star Trek and Discworld, and was never discouraged by any negative stereotypes – mostly because I never knew of any. Ironically, in the days before social media, those stereotypes never came to my attention. I was happy in my ignorance, as everyone I socialised with liked the same things as me, and it didn’t occur to me that some people didn’t like it. If I’d ever felt pressured not to like the genres, I strongly suspect I would have got quite uppity about it.

I’m starting to show my son the range of good-quality genre fiction; just this weekend, we watched the first-ever Star Wars film. He asked if we could watch another one soon, as I alluded to a few surprises along the way. He is desperate to know what I’m keeping from him, and I’m looking forward to seeing it through a fresh pair of eyes; how he reacts to something I’ve known for years.

We’ve also been reading the Harry Potter books together for some months now and are currently on the sixth in the series. I’m rather nervous about them ending, truth be told, because we’ve both become very emotionally invested in them – it’s something we do together, and Bryan has no trouble distinguishing the reality around us from the dragons in the book.

I’m biased, I suppose, because I write fiction in those genres myself; I tried writing a crime thriller once, and it didn’t go too well. I think I got to chapter three before realising what a load of tosh it was (I might not have quite used that word) and scrapped the whole thing. But I get to let my imagination run riot in the world of make believe when I’m writing about a world I’ve created, and that’s the best bit for me.

Creativity is so important in our lives, and we see it most of all in our kids; they are naturally creative thinkers. Bryan has become adept at the “expert dodge” – the quick-witted reason or explanation for something, usually designed to trick me or get me off-balance in order to satiate his own sense of humour. I love watching kids being imaginative, and it’s something we should be encouraging all the time – even if it involves my son jumping out of a cupboard to test how high I’ll jump as a result.