I am a native of sf, but not a resident.
— William Gibson
Apparently this is something Gibson said at his induction into the SF Hall of Fame last month. It encapsulates beautifully how I feel about what I write.
I got the Gibson quote, above, from a conversation at our dinner party on Saturday–one of our guests had been at the induction–and I told the story I first told Cat Rambo at Suite101.com of the moment at WisCon 30 that I knew I really did belong in sf:
Q: Did you enjoy WisCon? What was the highest point for you? Are there conventions that are “can’t miss” for you?
NG: The stand-out moment for me, no question, was a point in the Tiptree auction when what was under the hammer was a fan letter from Alice Sheldon (in her Tiptree persona) to Carol Emshwiller. I felt this enormous swelling under my breastbone, a vast bubble of history and connection. I thought: I’m here. I’m part of this continuum, this line of writers whose focus, cares, and struggles are linked to mine. I thought: I belong.
I’ve never much felt like part of a community; I’ve been a stranger in a strange land most of my life. I’ve moved a lot. I was a dyke in a Catholic girls school. I had a posh accent in a tough northern city when I left home. I was a writer among drug dealers and prostitutes and bikers. I have MS in a mostly able-bodied world. I’m English in America. But right there, right then, I belonged. It wasn’t a sweet, misty feeling; it was fierce, hard, brilliant. It will sustain me.
Last year I wrote an essay, “Identity and SF: Story and Science as Fiction,” about how and why I love sf. It was published in SciFi in the Mind’s Eye (ed. Margret Grebowitz, Open Court, 2007) and I’ve just made it available for free on my website. Enjoy.