To finish off my weeks of science fiction readings, I picked a story from “The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy” to read. I decided upon “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story”, by James Alan Gardner, simply because it had a title that stood out to me as I flipped through the book. It ended up being an adorable feel-good story that affected me in an entirely different way than any of the science fiction stories I had read for this class before. I suddenly realized, after puzzling over this for a while, that I hadn't read anything yet that had not left me with a feeling of unease, displacement, horror, or at least confusion.
I love science fiction. This is something that I've always kind of known, but really grew to realize in the last few weeks of this class. I find it completely inspirational to read these stories of the near-future, or of our-world-but-different, or even (sometimes) of the really, really weird. But, as a whole, they all tend to leave me with an uneasy feeling once I've finished with them. Something that was mentioned in class in fact, that I found particularly interesting and took note of, was the feeling of paranoia that runs through science fiction stories as a whole. The purpose of science fiction, as I have personally come to understand it, is to force the reader to question and see things differently.
What makes “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story” so interesting to me is that it actually left me feeling happy and satisfied. It actually was a love story, with a feel-good-version of science fiction layered over it. The story, basically, ended in a typical “it must be fate” way, except that “fate” was replaced by “the influence of this alien ray gun which was blasted from a space ship and crash landed here on Earth thousands of years later”. But then again, going by my previous definition of science fiction, this story was definitely a way of looking at a love story that was different than ever before.
All in all, I enjoyed this love story. It left me with a nice, satisfied feeling. And, possibly more importantly, it made me look back on the past few weeks of readings and try to figure out what, exactly, it takes for something to be considered science fiction.