In the beginning, the self-described "fermentation fetishist" Sandor Katz loved sour pickles.
"For whatever reason, I was drawn to that flavor as a child," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And then when I was in my 20s, I did quite a bit of dietary experimentation and ... I started noticing that whenever I ate sauerkraut or pickles, even the smell of it would make my salivary glands start secreting."
After Katz moved from New York City to a rural community in Tennessee, his fascination with all things fermented increased.
If Isabella Robinson had a Facebook account in 1858, her relationship status would be "It's complicated." Unhappily married to civil engineer Henry Robinson — a most "uncongenial partner" — Isabella set her lonely sights on the dashing and very much attached hydropath Dr. Edward Lane. In a perfect world, Isabella and Edward's respective spouses would die quick and painless deaths, freeing the paramours to be joined in holy, socially sanctioned matrimony. But Victorian England was not a perfect world.
Science fiction is a genre of contradictions. It's an entertaining escape from the dreary everyday, but it also invites you to rethink your everyday life. It can be cheesy but profound, fantastic but sharply political. And like all literature, it's rarely about what it seems to be on the surface. That's why the best sci-fi writers manage to turn space battles into philosophical debates, and zombie hordes into political satire.