A Celebration of the Written Word

by Robert Taylor

"The truest history is full of falsehoods, literature is full of truth." -- Denis Diderot

The first question to ask about science fiction is: Why bother to read it? With life as short as it is, with so many pressing demands on our time, with books of information, instruction and discussion waiting to be read, not to mention the New York Times best seller list, why should we spend precious time on works of the imagination? The answers are two: enjoyment and understanding.

Since the inventions of language, and before that the oral tradition of story telling, we have taken pleasure in following and participating in the imaginary adventures and imaginary experiences of imaginary people. Reading serves to make life less tedious, to make the hours pass more quickly and pleasurably; surely it needs nothing else to recommend it. Enjoyment and entertainment are the first aim and justification of reading science fiction.

But unless science fiction gives us something more than pleasure, it hardly justifies itself as a serious subject of our attention. Unless it expands or refines our minds or quickens our sense of life, its value is not appreciably greater than that of miniature golf, bridge, or PacMan. To have compelling claim on our attention, it must yield not only enjoyment, but understanding. Our experiences through the ages show that literature may furnish such understanding, and do so effectively -- that the depiction of imagined experiences can provide authentic insights. And it does not matter if the imagined experience is in 16th century Spain tilting at windmills or on the 4th moon of Saturn in a far-flung future. But the bulk of science fiction does not present such insights. Only some does. And it is that science fiction that we enjoy the most, because it challenges us and makes demands on us the readers.

As readers and fans, we are gathered at ArmadilloCon to celebrate the written word... it all begins with the written word. We wish to honor those authors who have provided us with an indispensable source of joy and knowledge -- a knowledge of experience, felt in the emotions as well as perceived by the mind. We celebrate the pleasure of reading and the insights it provides to us. Our aim in to aid in the growth and understanding of the literature of science fiction.