top of page

Classic Sci-Fi fans are misunderstood

The woes and wailing of a Classic Sci-Fi Fan.

Science Fiction writer Bert-Oliver Boehmer holding on to a novel by his favorite author: Isaac Asimov

We were geeks before it was cool. Most of us got hooked on the genre during our childhood, discovering fantastic novels, comics, movies or TV shows. While some stuff was stupid, most of it was not; containing timeless messages still relevant today. But, honestly, we didn’t read or tune in for the message. We were there for the sense of wonder, the vastness of possibilities and exciting stories not bound by any limits, not even the sky. The science fiction content that is now considered ‘classic’—we loved it!

The definition of ‘classic’ is a moving target, of course. Some consider the 1930s as the period of true classic SF, or date the 40s as the golden era. Others look at the 50s all the way through the 80s to have their favorites—like Asimov or Herbert—included. Classic Trek happened in the 60s, while many would refer to the original Star Wars trilogy as ‘classic Star Wars’. It does not matter which period you pick, because there is one unifying theme, one universal ingredient the classic sci-fi fans want back: how they FELT right after the movie or right after turning that last page in the book. The genuine sense that they have just witnessed something awesome, a perfect mixture of storytelling, new concepts and ideas and a thrilling spectacle.

Sadly, the term ‘classic’ also implies that these good times are over. That it was a time period that came, was great while it lasted, and then went away. Not away-away. The novels are still in print, most shows stream somewhere and we can always re-watch that 6th collector’s edition with the digitally remastered on-screen commentary. But there is nothing new. Or, at least, not much. “You matured” I hear, “you have grown up”, out-adulted the childish fascination, lost the sense of wonder!

F&%k that! I can still get excited by new narratives, universes, and character arcs. Have I not changed in the last 30, 40 years? Of course, I have. No one prepares a tax return and comes out the same. But I still like to get entertained and have my mind blown! It’s just not happening.

Woes of the Classic Sci-Fi Fan - Author Bert-Oliver Boehmer reviews

Most stuff that is now ‘classic’ was brand new content then. The concept of content is important here. The way this content was presented was not new. Three act dramas, character arcs coming straight out of Gilgamesh, hero personas who could have been written by Euripides. The storytelling was tried and true, based on some built-in mechanism we humans had since we gathered around the fire in the cave: We are, and always have been, suckers for a good tale. The now-classics did not give us new concepts of storytelling, they gave us new stories! New content! New stuff, different from the stuff before.

Here is where Classic Sci-Fi fans are truly misunderstood: We are getting the same stuff, over and over. Re-makes, re-boots, re-imaginations, re-whatevers. Now, don’t get me wrong, older content with a new shiny coat of paint can be a good thing. But in this reality, it mostly isn’t. It’s the old stuff, only worse. Instead of telling us new stories, we get classic content pressed into new forms of storytelling. This procedure often yields disastrous results, I think. I am not oblivious to the business drivers behind it. De-risking projects by falling back on previously successful content seems to make sense. If the results were wildly successful in a monetary kind of way, I’d be the first to admit grudgingly that the re-imagined retelling of the classic content is “where the money is.” But seeing formerly great franchises going from flop to flop and bleeding reputation and money alike does not look like a winning business formula.

What can we do as classic sci-fi fans? Complaining sometimes gets us labeled as toxic, or worse. But that’s like telling a sports fan who bemoans a string of his favorite team’s losses that they just don’t get how the game is played today. We don’t mind new perspectives, new narratives, new characters, au contraire, we crave them! Just give us new stuff, truly new stuff. We don’t want the old content back. We want back HOW IT MADE US FEEL!


bottom of page