The Man Who Came to Dinner

Science-fiction writers

"I used to lecture students about 'What Is Science Fiction?' I would read excerpts from books and say, 'Raise your hand when you know it's science fiction.' So I'd read something with rocket ships and ray guns and they'd raise their hands, because something that's not possible with our technology was happening. Then I would read the first line of Kafka's Metamorphosis. 'As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a giant insect.' And they didn't know what to do. 'Well, it's not science fiction because we read it in literature. But science fiction is when something weird and inexplicable happens. So how do we deal with this?'"

"The three of us have actually been labeled as 'literary writers' within the field," explained Michaela.

"It's like you're being damned," Pat added. "Within science fiction, people will say, 'I'm not going to read you because you're too literary.' Meanwhile, outside of science fiction they're saying, 'We're not going to read you because you're science fiction.'"

"One time," remembered Lisa, "another writer, at a convention, actually said to me, 'I don't read that literary crap.'"

Lisa's description of her latest book, Dark Cities Underground, sounds particularly interesting. It's a contemporary fantasy about subway systems and their connections to children's books, Egyptian gods, and Victorian grave robbers. "I kind of got the idea for it when I was on BART," she explained. "The guy on the speaker said, 'Your final destination is Colma.' And I thought, 'Well, yeah. I know that. But I don't want to be reminded of it.'"

For dessert Michaela capped off our meal with an unbelievable homemade ricotta tart. It's a traditional northern Italian dessert, she explained. "But I California-nated it by spreading lemon curd on top."

Oh, my God.

"I know," said Michaela. "I've gained, I don't know how much weight since I started this series. I gained 15 pounds writing this book alone. I used to be a very slender woman." (She still is.) "My next book is going to have to be about an anorexic."

Ignoring that comment, I passed on the cup of tea in favor of an extra slice of the amazing ricotta tart.

All in all, our evening definitively proved that the truth ... is way better tasting than fiction.

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