Cross posted at skyrocketpress.com
When I started reading scifi at the tender age of eleven, I had no idea how influential refuse would be on the genre. I learned the importance of garbage from my spiritual guru: Princess Leia. After all, turning to the south end of the sanitation system worked twice for her in getting very close to a certain space pirate. What young girl wouldn’t be perfectly willing to do the whole garbage shoot thing, especially if they got to meet someone who looked like Harrison Ford?
When I considered sanitation engineering as a device to enter the space program, it wasn’t because I was a geek or a nerd. I had not learned the anatomy of a trash can from being inserted into it, as some of my peers may have in high school.
I had an early interest in hydroponics as it related to the space program. I had considered how recycling would affect space travel before Doc took Marty to the future with a fusioned banana peel. Most astronauts when I was young, entered the space program through the Air Force and pilot training, but they didn’t accept women in the pilot program back in the day. So I considered that advanced sanitation engineering, ala the *real* Biodome–you know the one without Pauly Shore–could get me into space as an astronaut.
I’m not the only one who has turned all the interest of a fevered teenage dream into fodder for characters, places and scenarios. When I read The Martian I thought “Oh! There’s a writer who had nearly the same dream I had!” Of course, Andy Weir must have thought his way into the space program was through botany, sanitation engineering, monster truck building and Army medic training. That or he was a serious nerd…
In any case, The Martian was close enough to my dream to interest me, plus Weir wrote about Mars, like I did in my anthology Martian Goods. Unlike me, however, Weir got to see his dreams come to life on the big screen and his wanna-be alter ego character portrayed by Matt Damon. (It’s like Revenge of the Nerds, only the popular guys don’t even realize it and actually COMPETE to play the part of a nerd–whodathunk?)
I’m thinking that my silver screen version will be portrayed by Scarlett Johansson–though I have been compared to Angelina Jolie (interesting story for another time).
Anyway…It seems clear that everyone now agrees that the way to a victory in space is through the sanitary sewers. I mean space sewers. Whatever those might look like.
I had thought the conventional wisdom was that the way to impressionable young men’s hearts was through their stomachs, but modern scifi doesn’t seem to agree with me. Apparently, the way to their hearts (and geekboy minds) is a little further south in their digestive track.
I think the trend clearly shows I should be incorporating much more garbage in my manuscripts.
I’m already way ahead of the game. I’ve been studying recycling and hydroponics decades before they were trendy pinterest board pins. While the geeks and nerds may have an advantage over me with their intimate knowledge at an early age of trash cans, I can always play my trump card: I am a scifi space-chick (at least that’s what my husband says thanks to my scifi publishing creds). After all, Princess Leia didn’t have any intimate acquaintance with garbage until she snagged herself not one, but two attractive heroes and then they had regular contact with sanitation systems. The tradition of heroes with a deep interest in trash continues with Finn, who worked in the bowels of the Star Killer in the new Star Wars and the Martian Mark Watney who shoveled a lot of manure. Mad Max always deals with a lot of recycling and we all know Soylent Green is people.
I wonder what the janitors in the next Star Trek look like…