Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stories that change along with us

Originally posted on the old blog, on 02/18/13

I’d like to say that this post was spawned by my rereading a piece of classic literature, but really, it’s because I’m currently re-watching all four seasons of (the new) Battlestar Galactica. And, yes, I’m a total fangirl, even five-ish years after the series ended.

Now, Arizona came to me as a Star Wars wonk who didn’t put much stock in other sci fi movies. He enjoyed the recent Trek reboot, but only because I rented it and said, “Trust me, you’ll like it.” So the other day, needing a break from a River Monsters marathon (yes, I married a fisherman), I did the “Trust me, you’ll like it” on Battlestar and cued up my DVD of the initial miniseries.

Three-plus hours later, eyes glazed, he turned to me and said, “There’s more, right?” Which is how we wound up watching the first two seasons in a week, and ordering the full series on Blu-Ray when it turned out that somewhere along the line, two of my DVDs had crossed paths with something very sticky. Orange juice, maybe, or Gorilla Glue.

Watching the shows back-to-back has been a real treat, like rereading a favorite series in a delicious weekend orgy of bookness. But I’ve also been surprised by how my perceptions have changed.

When the series was on the air, I dug the world building and spaceship fights, tolerated the politics, and didn’t always get the relationships and decisions. For example, I didn’t understand why Starbuck pined for Anders after leaving him behind on Caprica. They hadn’t known each other for long, after all, and she was tough and practical. It seemed out of character, or like he was easier for her to fixate on because he was far away.

Watching it now, though, I get it. I know what it feels like to know someone for only a few weeks, yet feel like a piece of you is missing when they’re gone. My perceptions have changed because I have changed. I’ve experienced more and loved more deeply in the years since I first saw the show, so the themes of family and sacrifice mean something very different to me now.

The same is true for some books. To my childhood self, Jonathan Livingston Seagullwas about a bird being bullied by his peers. Later, as I was working on first getting published, I read it as encouragement to push past what the people around you think is possible, and break invisible boundaries. More recently, I read it as reassurance that there is love after death, at a time when I badly needed to hear it.

Tolkien, too, has changed as I have, as has David Brin’s excellent Startide Rising. When I was a kid, it was a story about dolphins in space (trust me, it works), with poetry that I skipped over. In my teens, when I could read the dolphins’ haiku-speak, I figured out that it was about racism. And later, it became a cautionary tale about what happens when a planet is gutted and its ecological balance disrupted.  

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