Paul G. Allen, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, is planning to build something called SFX (Science Fiction Experience) in Seattle. He’s calling it a “cultural project”, and says he sees it as “a jumping-off project for examining the future”:
According to promotional material, SFX “will explore our culture through the broad, historic and compelling lens of science fiction.” The material promises models of “bug-eyed monsters” and exhibits that illustrate “science fiction’s alternate realities.” …That’s Rocket Ship Galileo—and so did I.
Plans call for a hall of fame for science-fiction heroes, another hall shaped like the interior of a spaceship and a third that would commemorate terrifying aliens and other evil creatures. SFX’s advisory board includes the science-fiction writers Greg Bear, Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler and Arthur C. Clarke.
Writers like those transfixed Mr. Allen when he was young. He said he was a small child when he stumbled on a book called “Spaceship Galileo” and has been “a huge fan” of science fiction ever since.
These things are bound to happen, though the gradually increasing respectability of Our Beloved Genre over the course of my lifetime has caused me considerable bemusement. It’s a normal process. We love as adults what we read as kids, back when we had no thought of the respectability of a book, but only cared whether it was a good story. Meanwhile, the ones who grow up to be authors reshape that rapturous indiscriminate junk-laden reading into better art that resembles, not the original work, but what they saw in their heads when they read it.