It's something of a given that science fiction and fantasy are part of life for readers of this blog, but I'd like to hear why - why does this genre attract us? What is it about science fiction, fantasy, or whichever subset of it you read and/or write that draws you?
In my case, the answer goes back a long way. I literally don't remember not being able to read, and at school the stuff deemed "appropriate" for my grade level was so simple and boring I'd be through it in no time flat and looking for something else to read. My school library cards would fill up and get added to - and I'd borrow so many books so often I didn't write the titles on the card - I devised my own flavor of shorthand. I knew what it meant, even if no-one else did.
The other thing that happened was I read in phases. For a while I sought out every "girl and horse" book I could find. Then every mystery. Then every... well, you get the picture. I'd devour the things. I was probably the only kid in any of the schools I attended that was in the school library every day to return the pitiful allowance of books we had (two, I think) and borrow more.
I was towards the end of primary school (grade 5 or 6, I think) and running out of historicals that they'd let me borrow (Yes, I read out libraries. And the community library fared no better than the school one) when I got hooked on Doctor Who. Naturally, since I adored the TV series - Tom Baker was the Doctor then - I was delighted to find novelizations of the episodes in the school and the local library. Then when I'd devoured every Doctor Who novelization I could find, I started looking for other books like that.
Little fizzy neurons went BOOM! I'd discovered a whole new universe that could never be completely explored, never run out of places to go, and where you could do anything so long as you justified it well enough to make the story work.
So... already geeky not-quite-teenage girl with zero social interaction dives into science fiction - and fantasy a little later - with all the finesse of a beached whale. Since I'd been telling myself stories from the start, and they generally weren't quite in the normal world, more writing happened. Reams of it, handwritten on any form of paper I could get my hands on. I was always short of notepaper in school because I was too busy using it to write stories.
Then my parents worked out I was serious, and bought me a second-hand manual typewriter. It was a piece of junk, but it worked. I'm not sure how many ribbons I wore out, but it was a lot. I'd rewind them for second and third runs, until the ink got so faded I had to replace them. I started with hunt and peck, and literally did so much typing that I eventually got to the point of touch typing, even though I've got a lousy technique. No, you don't want to read any of it. It sucked.
I never lost that sense of awe and wonder when it comes to all the places you can take science fiction and fantasy. Vampires and elves? No worries. Immortality? Easy. Where else can you play with ideas like what life would look like if no-one ever died?
I'll admit I've gotten more than a little jaded when it comes to reading - so much of what's on the shelves is a rehash of the same old tropes without much, if any, originality. It's sad, especially when it doesn't take much to make something seem fresh. J. K. Rowling did it by combining two well-worn tropes in a way that's very rarely done. She took the British boarding school mystery and the classic coming of age/defeating the Dark Lord story and put them together - and used the structure of the boarding school story with the trappings of the fantasy story (Caveat here - I'd be prepared to bet that Rowling didn't do this deliberately. More likely she loved both kinds of books and the synergy just happened. Writing works like that). Then there's Pratchett, who's his own class, his own school, and quite possibly his own universe of awesome. And of course, my fellow Mad Geniuses.
If I had to take a guess, I'd say the common factor is that everyone in that list - and the other writers I still enjoy - love what they're doing and (probably most important) aren't afraid to look at their worlds and characters as if no-one had ever heard of genre, then turn around and and flip the genre tropes sideways, backwards, and any other direction that takes their fancy.
So what about you? What keeps you reading science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, or whatever other genres you read? What drives you to write in those genres if you write?
Alternatively, you can tell me I'm a nosy bitch and to sod off - but I'd rather you didn't do that.