There's been a bit of talk about Inception lately, on the film review show I regularly tune into, since it set out its "films of the year" list for 2010. Naturally Inception features highly on that list, and I think it would be hard to dispute that it was definitely one of the best films in a pretty forgettable year for cinema.
But what everybody - reviewers, fans calling in, and the film's participants - seems to talk about is something that I can't relate to at all; the supposed difficulty of following the plot. Now, I'll grant you that Inception has a more convoluted plot than most films. I guess if all you're used to watching is Marley and Me and Transformers 2, it might have been a minor shock to the system. But really, to anybody who has done any reading of Gibson, Zelazny, Wolfe or even Alastair Reynolds, it should present any sort of challenge at all - par for the course, really.
Though aye, there's the rub - ordinary cinema audiences and, perhaps more critically, supposedly well-educated intellectual film reviewers, are not science fiction literate. They aren't used to following a relatively complex plot while also keeping track of new information and concepts that require them to stretch their imagination in any way. When presented with something just a little bit mind-bending they find it very difficult to handle and they shut down into "Crikey, does not compute, pass the popcorn" mode.
It's at times like these that I find myself succumbing to the arrogance of the snobbish geek. Join me in wallowing in it.