I admit it: I don’t really “get” New York City. I’ve been there of course, visiting friends, etc. I’ve seen the Met, the village, the park, the restaurants, the bridges, the endless highway gridlock, the claustrophobic streets, the inescapable smells… you know, the whole experience. And I didn’t really like it! Maybe I’m a country critter at heart, but even other cities I’ve seen and lived in have never felt so fundamentally alienating as New York.
When we think about “science fiction”, we typically think of two things: cerebral scifi, like the Twilight Zone, which uses speculative settings and concepts to delve deeper into the human condition; and pulp scifi, like Star Trek, which uses speculative settings and concepts as an excuse to blow things up. Sometimes a writer will try to achieve both, occasionally one thinks it’s the other, and rarely a work will effectively unite the two aspects of the genre, but overall, this dichotomy of “thinky” scifi and “explodey” scifi tends to remain unquestioned. What would – what could – science fiction that didn’t fit into either category even look like?
You know that thing that all your friends like, but you just can’t get into? Game of Thrones, or Homestuck, or Marvel comics, or whatever. You’ve tried it out a couple times, and it seems like something you should enjoy, but for one reason or another you just can’t get past that initial hurdle to sustained interest. For me, Band vs. Band is one of those things. Lots of people had recommended it to me, but none of the recommendations had ever stuck. But when reader Emily sent me a message saying “How the heck are you not reading Band vs. Band??”, I decided that “uhhh, I dunno” wasn’t a good enough answer, and I needed to give it another shot.
Some stories need to be told twice. Truly skilled writers can create worlds so rich, plots so intricate, and characters so deep that you can’t take them all in with just one telling; each subsequent reading reveals new details that you never noticed before. Other stories are simply too convoluted, or lack exposition, to fully understand what’s happening without a reread. Still others are just so enjoyable that they never get old, and multiple passes endear them closer to your heart.