Those who shouldn't, do it anyway
When I go to any book shop, the first (and sometimes only) place I scour for good finds is the science fiction section. I can usually find a few decent books to take home, but I spend most of my browsing time with my mind reeling at the fact that people actually read and enjoy the garbage I see on those shelves. Mind you, my judgments are hardly unjustified, as I spent the majority of my junior high and high school years reading and enjoying that crap; I painfully and shamefully know what I'm talking about. It eventually got to the point where I was regularly reading those execrable Star Wars serializations. It's truly a wonder I'm still reading at all, let alone science fiction (I can definitely thank the occasional Bradbury and Asimov that fell into my hands, as well as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Naturally, I didn't really realize how bad that stuff was until relatively recently, when I was indirectly shown The New Way by my former down-the-hall neighbor Mac Tonnies
("god" bless those book reviews!). Oddly enough, a recent post at Posthuman Blues (in which he briefly points out that good scientists rarely make good science fiction authors
, though that hardly stops them) got me thinking about this subject and drove me to come to a similar conclusion, which I will discuss in the next paragraph (I really need to work on more fluid transitions).
Scientists doubling as science fiction writers, while embarassing, isn't really too awful; they do have some "street cred" after all. However, science fiction faces a much greater threat in the form of "I'm not an intergalactic superhero, but I play(ed) one on TV" authors. I can handle scientists writing fiction, but actors from sci-fi films and TV shows? Leonard Nimoy, William Shattner, Levar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, "Beam Me Up Scotty" Doonan, Mark Hamill... Need I say more? One can point out several scientists who are also great SF writers, but can one do the same for actors? I can't. Most of them get their sci-fi "cred" from a TV and film franchise where "aliens" were beings who have bigger heads, interesting facial bone structures, and "weird" hairstyles. And now they write science fiction. And it is not good. I can see professional scientists writing as a hobby (since they do have day jobs), but these folks are obviously just trying to milk a few extra bucks out of their fading fame (how many of them also have/had careers in music? "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins
," anyone?). More power to them, I guess, but I suggest they make the switch to romance fiction.
I suppose this was more of a rant than the promised discussion. I will say there is one Star Trek actor who is a good writer--Wil Wheaton--but fortunately he doesn't do sci-fi.