The most recent issue of Smithsonian magazine had an interesting article about some Japanese fans of particular types of Americana — like hamburgers, bourbon, jazz, and denim. You can read it here so I don't have to summarize.
It's a neat article, and it connected up with some other threads inside my skull.
Second thread: a panel discussion about food and SF several years ago (which was the genesis of my short story "Parsifal: Prix Fixe"). I remember that several of the panelists talked about how much they enjoyed improvising in the kitchen — throwing stuff together and experimenting — and how they thought that paralleled some of how they wrote stories.
Third thread: during the recent spate of Book Events I've been answering questions about A Darkling Sea, and one question which kept coming up was about the science in the book. How much was real, and how did I do the research, and so on.
Now to tie them together: the Smithsonian article mentioned the importance of "mastery" in Japanese society — how much they value getting things right. It explains the reverence for traditional arts, the respect given to masters of particular crafts, and the country's reputation for meticulous manufacturing. It also explains why a Japanese bourbon lover accumulated the world's most amazing collection of old bourbons, why Japanese rockabilly fans get together to show off their leather jackets and hairstyles, and why a Japanese chef has devoted himself to creating perfect hamburgers.
I have that particular quirk, myself. At that long-ago food panel, I was the odd man out (literally: the rest of the speakers were women). I do experiment in the kitchen, but what I really love is to execute a particular dish in the authentic way. To get it right.
And of course that shows up in my fiction, too. I like to get things in my stories right. I probably spend way too much time doing research and coming up with background details I'll never use, because it has to be right. It has to be, or I feel as though I'm lying.
I suspect this is a trait I share with other hard-SF writers. I can't think of any way to measure it, but I'd bet that writers who want to get the science right (or the history, or the police procedure, or whatever) are like that in other aspects of life.
To be honest, this is such a part of how my brain works that I have difficulty understanding how anyone could simply not care about getting it right. When (just as an example) an episode of the great TV show Babylon 5 mentions a ship stopping off at the titular space station — orbiting a world in another star system, mind — while en route from Earth to Io (one of Jupiter's moons), I'm simply shocked. Seriously. How can a writer creating a science fiction TV show not know the difference between another planet in our solar system and a planet of another star? Or not care enough to go look it up?
If you're shaking your head at this and thinking "what an obsessive nerd" your brain obviously doesn't work the way mine does. I don't understand why everyone isn't an obsessive nerd. How can you not be one? Don't you care about getting it right?