Sunday, February 26, 2012

Which Type of Sci-fi Reader Are You?

First Published in ConNotations NewsZine, Issue #5 - October-November 2011

By Anna Questerly

Many bookstores still shelve sci-fi and fantasy together, a practice that drives most Sci-Fi readers to fume and mutter while they scan the shelves for something new to read. Who can seriously believe that the works of Tolkien and Asimov have anything in common? At Dog-Eared Pages, one of the first things I did was to separate them. However, after three years of helping readers find new authors, I believe the science fiction section could be divided even further.

I could be wrong, although I rarely am, (just don't ask my husband). There have been no studies or experiments to back up my theory, but I believe there are different reasons why people read the genre. While all sci-fi lovers share the common expectation that the advancements and achievements in technology are paramount and the science behind them better be accurate and believable, I think there are two distinct types of readers. I call them trekkies and warriors. I have successfully used this method, for the past two years, to help guide my customers in their search to find new books to enjoy.

Trekkies, of course, enjoy reading the series Star Trek. They read to learn the philosophy of the future. I have found they also savor Asimov's Foundation series, Herbert's Dune series, Orwell's 1984 and Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. It's not so much about the advanced technology, but the more subtle and profound thoughts these books force their readers to tackle. Trekkies love to read about the possible futures of mankind, both good and bad. They relish the politics, belief systems and schools of thought about the future. Trekkies often ponder and anguish over which direction we are headed for now.

Warriors, are a completely different breed. They devour the Star Wars series. They're usually drawn to authors such as Cherryh, Bova, Card and Clarke. Warriors read for adventure. Warriors want their battles complete with lasers swords swashing and titanium helms buckling. They root for the good guys and see themselves in the midst of the action. Above all, they crave a great story.

Are you a Trekkie or a Warrior? Or do you think there should be a third category? Do you believe my theory lacks substance and should be shoved into the theory disposal unit? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. I'm still considering whether to break my sci-fi section down into these two categories, and would love to hear from some hard-core sci-fi readers.

Anna Questerly, author of The Minstrel's Tale and manager of Dog-Eared Pages bookstore in North Phoenix. Anna can be reached at or or through Facebook as either Anna Questerly or Dog-Eared Pages.

Melanie Tighe
Dog-Eared Pages, LLC
(602) 283-5423
16428 N. 32nd Street, Suite 111
Phoenix, AZ 85032


Patti Hultstrand said...

As an independent author and publisher, I value my relationships with local bookstore owners. If I were to impart any word of wisdom to any author or aspiring author it would be to seek out these liaisons early in your book author career and then keep up that relationship over the years.

Patti Hultstrand said...

I also think that for these theories, readers who are warriors love fantasy because the adventure and sense of wonder. I already know which vein I typically read from.