Asking a girl like me to list three of her favorite science fiction books/movies/TV shows is like giving somebody a lollipop and then limiting them to only three licks. At least we can cut it down to just science fiction, so I’ll carefully wrap up the fantasies—epic and urban and space—and tuck them aside (so, so many goodies, more on you another time).
So. Science fiction only. Gotcha.
- Farscape. In the dark ages before bingewatching, I used to drive over to a friend’s house to watch new episodes every week. We were entranced. We’d never seen a spaceship give birth before, and we’d certainly never seen a group of alien misfits quite like this one. It took me a while to get over the puppets and the strange flatulent king-in-exile, but what kept me watching were the badassery of Aeryn Sun, the leather trousers of John Crichton, and the complex development of the antagonists. I always wanted them to hurt, but I didn’t always want them to lose. Thank you, powers of the universe, for The Peacekeeper Wars. We fans needed that.
- Doctor Who. Classic Who is a fun romp and caters to my gadget love and sense of adventure, but the New Who excels at what all the best spec-fic tries to do: it explores characters. Specifically it explores the character of the Doctor, the lonely god, the Valeyard, the oncoming storm. Master of time and space, but at the core what he needs is to not be alone. So basically, he is all of us. My favorite episode is “The Doctor’s Wife,” written by Neil Gaiman, who is also something of a god, just the word-wielding kind.
- The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula LeGuin. Okay, the beginning is hard to punch through, but once the actual story starts rolling, this book is impossible to dismiss. So much is going on, so many balls in the air, moving in concert—technology and interplanetary politics, evolution of social structures, philosophical seismic shifts, a desolate and unrelenting setting, and at the center of it all, two people. Just them. Doing that thing we all want to do more than anything else: forming a connection. Every time I read it, this book makes me feel at once tiny and part of something impossibly large.