It’s hard to believe in this internet age but there used to be a time when fans of science fiction and fantasy were doomed to isolation. Finding others who shared your passion for an author, a series of books or a far away world was a matter of luck. Many of us spent years feeling alone, resigned to a life where we travelled the fantastic paths solo without a companion with whom to discuss the discoveries, the characters, which fork to take, who to love, who to hate or which world to visit next. We lurked in comic book stores, the dusty far reaches of book shops, old independent movie theatres, video stores run by scary looking dudes, Games Workshop and the far reaches of school where nobody cool every dared to tread. Sometimes we found our particular breed of geek in those places, but often we were not so lucky.

The day I discovered that the internet was more than a place to shop or do my banking was like the moment in Who Framed Roger Rabbit when the walls came down and we stepped into the vibrant, anything-is-possible Toon Town. All of a sudden there were people like me in my world, just a click away. Questions were answered, new doors were opened and my references were understood. I was funny because my humour made sense to these people, our shared loves of books and writers gave us a common language, we bonded in a way that was so rare in my everyday life. I found an oasis in the vast literary desert where I dwelt and I drank deep. The life that I had settled for changed completely.

This is the power of the internet. Very much like the fantasy and science fiction books that we love to read, it opens a magical door into a place where we feel truly at home, where we can be the people that we have put on mute in order to blend into everyday society. Online communities are places rife with over-the-top characters – Trolls to frustrate us, n00bs for the facepalm moments and extremists to set off full blown flame wars. In amongst all of this excitement and drama we find friends who we come to love with a strength that can only be born from the depth of shared literary experience. There is even a common language born from oft-repeated typos, popular threads, book quotes and hive-mind abbreviations. These are our people and there will always be somebody online, somewhere in the world, ready to laugh, rant or cry along with us.

Interacting with real people who are typing and chatting with you from the far reaches of our little blue planet, all of you with a shared passion for science fiction and fantasy. It’s magical, it’s science, it’s life affirming, it’s expansive, it’s a whole lot of fun. Doors are opened, the shutters come down, a fresh breeze blows through your stagnant mind. Breathe deep, nourish your geeky soul and make connections. Long may the Virtual Community continue.

K M S Harvey blogs as the intrepid Captain Kat and earns a salubrious living in the field of custom erotica as Kat Steel. Her first love is genre fiction though and, when she finds time amongst the writing that pays the bills, her children and building a medieval fort, she is doggedly working away on a Steampunk erotica novella, a speculative fiction novel and a historical screenplay.