This Is My Brain On Sci-Fi

by Christopher DeFilippis

DeFlip Side, Vol. 1, No. 24
(First Appeared: May, 2001; First Light E-zine, Issue 103)

DeFlip Side gives you sparkly brains!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing DeFlip Side for more than two years now. It’s even harder to believe that next month will mark its final print edition, when First Light joins Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, James T. Kirk and (seemingly) my fiction career in the ranks of Sci-Fi memory.

I normally don’t like to dwell on the creative process, or try to analyze my column too closely. I prefer to just let it be, and let readers draw their own conclusions. But in the face of this impending curtain call I can’t help but think about the ideas that have sprouted in this mental petri dish of mine. I feel somehow compelled to take stock of what, if anything, I’ve accomplished since contacting Editrix E way back in 1998, hat in hand, looking for a regular forum. But my memories of topics-past all seem to take the form of mental spin art—smears of intent that, while colorful, are somewhat hard to define.

In an effort to construct a more accurate chart of my musings, I have consulted the First Light archives, combing the past 27 issues to see just what the hell I’ve been blathering on about for all this time. Here’s the column breakdown:

  • Science Fiction Television: 6
  • Books (including comics): 4
  • Science Fiction in general: 4
  • Non-Genre Topics: 4
  • Ghosts/Paranormal: 2
  • SF Conventions: 2
  • Drunken Trips to Schenectady: 2
  • Missed Columns: 3

Even though I defined the categories fairly broadly while compiling the list, it still seems laughably short for two years’ worth of sweat on a column that has been, at one time or another, my blessing, my soapbox, my albatross, my frustration, my therapy, my satisfaction and my joy.

Ironically, the topic I wrote about most—SF television—is the one I seem to have enjoyed the least. I spent the majority of those columns railing about the lamentable state of genre programming. In hindsight, I wonder why I wasted so much time, space and energy pointing out the obvious. After all, how often is anything ever done well on TV?

I’m glad to see that I’ve devoted more time collectively to broader-based discussions about books and ideas, both within the realm of Science Fiction and without. I think it’s that kind of dynamic I had in mind when I first resolved to do this column. I envisioned a kind of clearinghouse for my thoughts that I hoped would resonate in some way with all of you reading out there, whether to reinforce your own ideas, piss you off, or just give you a couple of laughs.

And I’m glad to see that I spent at least some of my time over the past couple of years just having some fun—passing along some spooky stories, relating good times spent with friends, making fun of Sci-Fi nerds. All in all, it’s been an interesting foray into my own bloated sense of self.

But the question remains: When you come down to it, what have I accomplished?

Well, to answer that, I prefer to let my words to speak for themselves. I like to think that I discovered at least a few good ideas while panning in my stream of consciousness. And there are a few columns I’ve written that I point to with some pride. I think of them as the DeFlip Side top five:

5) Through the Looking Glass (March 2001): My extended analysis on the final Quantum Leap episode “Mirror Image.” I’m glad I was able to do the episode the justice it deserves.
4) Insanity Begets Tranquility (August 1999): Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Moon landing.
3) Greater Awakenings (January 2000): I turn 30. Yuck.
2) Sci-Fi or SF? Give it a Rest! (January 1999): One of my first columns, and still one of my best.
1) In Defense of Dead White Males (September 2000): Take that, Oprah!

If you haven’t read them, what are you waiting for? Enlightenment is just a mouse-click away. And if you have, thank you for the time you’ve spent over the years. I hope it’s been worth it. And I also extend my gratitude to E. Catherine Tobler, for creating First Light and so generously giving me a home within it. There have been more times than I care to remember over the last few years where this column was the only connection I could still find between myself and my creativity. Thanks for the lifeline…

That’s enough looking back. Things are also moving forward. Even after we bow out next month, DeFlip Side will still be hanging around, like a toe fungus that you just can’t kill.

Starting in July, DeFlip Side will be moving to the airwaves, becoming a regular monthly feature on the radio program Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction which airs every Friday at 11:30 p.m. on WUSB. Those of you in the Long Island area can tune in to 90.1 FM. The rest of you can listen online at www.wusb.org.

But wait, there’s more! There’s one column to go before we say goodbye, and you don’t want to miss it. Mark my words, it’s gonna be a real doozie. I just hope my wife is still speaking to me after she reads it…

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