by Roberto Quaglia – roberto.info
Science fiction fans have been suffering, ever since the dawn of this genre of literature, from a rather sad complex: the awareness of living at the margins of the dominant culture, regarded with some snobbery if not full contempt by the habitués of the great literary prizes, not to mention Academy Award or Nobel Prize winners. A sort of “ghetto” complex, the awareness of being destined to stay confined forever in the extreme periphery of the dominant culture. In the SF community in time everybody has at some point complained bitterly about this exclusion, from Isaac Asimov down to the latest arrival in so-called fandom. Great authors like Kurt Vonnegut, who indeed have written science fiction, have repudiated the science-fictionality of their works for fear of being belittled.
And it was fatally inevitable that after decades of enduring humiliations one fine day someone in SF fandom would decide they had enough and that the moment of revenge had come, against a stolid and foolish world. And what better retaliation against an ungrateful world than to destroy it by the way of a nice world war?
You may think I’m exaggerating, but far from it. For obscure reasons fandom is quarrelsome everywhere. There isn’t a country where national SF fandom isn’t split into factions which enjoy bickering eternally. Don’t ask me why. It’s like that, full stop. De gustibus non est disputandum, as the Romans would say if they were still alive. But there is a country where the natural contentiousness of fandom has been raised to levels never seen before, something able to turn the whole world upside down. That’s not a mistake and it’s not by chance. The noble motive behind this is indeed the destruction of the world, which deserves this because the world is so stupid. The fandom which has taken on the heavy burden of precipitating this historical nemesis is Ukrainian fandom.
And still you believe I’m joking. But you know nothing, Jon Snow. Really.
The two main actors in the current Ukrainian civil war are on one side the Minister of Internal Affairs of Kiev, for whom the separatist Donbass region is obviously an internal problem of the country, and on the other side the deputy Minister of Defense of the Donetsk Republic, for whom obviously is Kiev the external problem to defend against.
The first person, Arsen Avakon, is a great science fiction fan, who in the past has been the enthusiastic main sponsor and the vice-chairman of the yearly Star Bridge SF Convention of Kharkov. On his homepage you’ll find a page with the covers of all the books of the SF collection he founded.
The second one, Fyodor Berezin, is a science fiction author. The New Yorker came out with a nice article on him titled The Russian Tom Clancy Is on the Front Lines for Real. Berezin is a supporter of the theory that we all are living inside a computer simulation and that this has probably helped saving his life a few times in battle.
It isn’t by chance that the two characters who in this epic confrontation are embodying the reciprocal enemy both belong to science fiction fandom. Indeed, this is secretly a battle within fandom. Geopolitics is only a deceptive mask behind which fandom is hiding.
Arsen Avakov and Fyodor Berezin: even the very sound of their names juxtaposed is evoking the epic of an immortal narrative and the aesthetics of their juxtaposition reinforces the idea that we are all living in a simulation. Two characters in search of an Italian author who would reveal their little known science fictional nature.
One of them is among my Facebook Friend contacts while with the other one I share a few photos which depict us together in the same place. Attending Cyrillic science fiction conventions leads to this and more. So please do listen to me, for I knows all the secrets! The crisis in Ukraine is not like they tell about in the news. It isn’t the fruit of the clash between two superpowers which are using Ukraine as a battlefield for their games. Instead it’s the fruit of the clash between two faction of fandom in Ukraine which are manipulating the two superpowers as their unaware pawns.
Yes, really, science fiction fandom has finally taken control of international politics so as to settle the score within itself. And by the way to give a due reset to the world, which we all agree by now is quite a shitty place needing some cleanup wouldn’t do any harm. It would be about time. Rebooting will allow us to rebuild a better world with more justice. A world in which literary science fiction would be finally recognized for its highly cultural value and would get rich prizes and honours. If the world really is a computer simulation, as by now many scientists are seriously thinking —if you don’t believe me just ask Scientific American—who better than fandom can be entitled to reset the subroutines which are running mankind and perform a reboot? Now finally is becoming clear what has always been the ultimate mysterious finality of the long-living contentiousness which is embedded in science fiction fandom of every time and place. The mission to save the world, by destroying a defective release, which time has rendered irredeemably obsolete.