Space Battles in Comment Sections

I’ve read two articles about science fiction in as many weeks –one about Star Trek– and, God help me, with both, I ended up reading the comments. I’m old enough to know better.

The first comment was some fellow complaining that science fiction has gone all Social Justice Warrior. He wanted to know where all the space battles were. He loved a space battle when he was 12. Space battles got him into science fiction. He really misses these space battles. He wants more space battles. More space battles and less social messages. Please! CAN WE JUST HAVE SPACE BATTLES! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! SPACE! BATTLES! BATTLES IN SPACE! WE COULD CALL IT SPACE BATTLES!

So, there’s the usual things to say about a comment like that. For starters, there’s no fucking shortage of space battles. Hell, even Star Trek, which is about a TREK through the stars, has a lot of space battles. I can only imagine that Star Wars has a lot of battles too. Many of these are probably in space. There’s also The Expanse, which I actually really like. It also features a lot of space battles. Indeed, I think we could all use some more science fiction without space battles. Without battles of any kind. Well, maybe battles with one’s own ethics, limitations, or the expectations of the world around them, or battles with difficult problems of math, technology, and communications, and many of those battles could be waged in space, but you know what I mean — less ships shooting at each other in the stars.

The other thing is that science fiction has always had social messages.

But this point is so fucking obvious.

So what someone like this is almost certainly saying is that they want their science fiction to be whiter and straighter and more manly. And I, for one, will never stop being amused that men who like “space battles” and lasers going “pew-pew” and alien puppets and shit are now such staunch defenders of “TRADITIONAL MASCULINITY!” God forbid the space-pajama, children shows they adore are not MANLY enough. Like, I adore these shows too but damned if I feel like John Wayne when I’m all like “NOOO!!! THAT FLUX CAPACITOR IS INFESTED WITH NANOBOTS! DO NOT PUT IT IN THE RELAY, MR SPACE ROBOT!”

I mean, it’s not exactly killing the only horse you ever loved to feed your family, is it?

Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, standard commenter probably a racist, likes space battles, against the social messaging, wishes he was 12. That seems a fair summary.

So, yeah, I agree with a lot of the replies to these nonsense comments. But I do think a lot of the standard replies to this sort of nonsense also hand-wave away a lot of very serious problems with science fiction. It’s like, you say “television’s first interracial kiss” and the progressive bonafides of a show and genre are established forever and ever AMEN. Like, I’m just not so sure that science fiction is all that progressive. Sometimes, I’m not sure if it can be but that’s another conversation. Let’s just say, for now, that the science fiction toolbox is not always up to the topic it seeks to address.

Science fiction has always had social messaging but a lot of it has been very bad messaging. A lot of science fiction has been outrightly and openly fascist and some has been well-intentioned but really pretty terrible. I mean, if you act like Star Trek or science fiction in general is mainly progressive social messaging, you seem as wrong as someone who says it’s just space battles. Like, yeah, Star Trek had an interracial kiss in 1968. It also had “Code of Honor” in 1987. I’m not sure how to score this game so I’m not sure I’d call it a draw, but the show is definitely a mixed bag. Most of science fiction is like that.

But what probably concerns me more with this guy and his love of space battles is not the reasoning that I read into his comment but his STATED reasoning. He loved space battles when he was 12. I just can’t believe the fucking unbelievable entitlement and childishness of that thinking. Like, he liked a thing when he was 12 so not only does he want everything to stay how it was when he was 12, he also wants to keep enjoying the same shit he enjoyed when he was 12 in the exact same way he enjoyed it when he was 12. It’s like, motherfucker, you’re not 12 anymore. You’re thirty five. Even if all that stuff stayed the same, you were supposed to change. Like, Jesus . . .