“New Sci-fi” Part Five, Stale Cookies

By now, you understand what this series of posts is about, and if you’re not – start from the beginning. But as I reach this last entry I realize there’s one last point that has to be made and it runs a little counter to everything else I’ve said to this point.

For a while, I considered calling this section of my series “Concessions and Uncomfortable Questions”. When I first approached doing this series of posts there was a singular point to be made above all else – the audience hasn’t become close minded. A couple of times I started to graze close to the concept that the audience has become somehow disgruntled with the genres I’ve covered, but I stayed on message (as far as I know). But at this point, there’s one concession I thought I was going to have to make. After all, with a surface analysis, you might see things wrong because of some personal bias.

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“New Sci-fi” Part Four! Mental Problems (that we all have)

A while ago I read an article that told me the science fiction genre needed to abandon the science part if it wanted to survive. Frankly, it left me a little unsettled. Immediately I set out on writing a counter-point that has now blossomed into an obsession. In fact, the obsession has stretched into my natural insomnia and here I am, writing this entry while half dead.

So I sit here as an insomniac and figure I might as well get something done in the meantime. By the time I finish this, I will likely be drooling on a pillow…or my desk. In the meantime, I would like to talk to you, my fellow writers, about the mental hangups that plague our genre and the people who consider getting into it. Considering some of the subject matters, this could take a while…

For now, in the interest of time, there’s three I would like to cover that happen to be the cornerstone of why science fiction and high fantasy have a hard time breaking into the mainstream. Freud’s analysis of our mother issues will have to wait for another day.

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“New Sci-fi” Part Three…. The Soulless Undead

After hearing a group of executives and agents talk about their opinion that science fiction sales were down because the audience had become jaded, I started to consider where they’d get that idea. The tastes of people shift from time to time, but they had this notion that the only way to sell scifi and fantasy was to ground them deeper into our mundane world and use the fantastic elements as little more than set dressing. So I started writing out some of the observations I had when dealing with people who weren’t fans of the genres (particularly scifi).

This particular entry was going to be two different posts. But after sitting and thinking about it, I’ve realized they’re much the same problem – a single problem that kind of appears different depending on what angle you’re seeing it from.

This one problem can be found even in the professional world and has probably led to that recent dip of popularity for science fiction and high fantasy that got me writing these posts. It also leads to problems mentioned in the previous posts. It’s almost the great unifier to all the others, really. And, for those of you who are writers of these genres, this is going to be hard to hear…

For non-fans, our favorite genres often fail to connect and sometimes that makes people think they’re… well… shallow.

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“New Sci-fi” Part Two! Women

After reading some thoughts that the industry had on where the sci-fi genre needs to go in the next few years, I’ve found myself thinking about what the actual problems with the genre can be. It’s true that sales can be soft for science fiction work, but it’s also true that “we need less science in our sci-fi” is kind of a stupid solution. So, I’ve gathered some observations to see if maybe I can shed some light on the issue from the “outside”.

Truthfully, I was going to leave this observation for last. I’ve got about 3 or 4 things I feel are worth pointing out and this one I felt was the strongest one to go out on. But after some consideration and a chat with a near and dear friend, I’ve realized that this one really kind of leads into and ties the rest of them together. Because one of the biggest problems we have is assuming what will and won’t sell and preemptively avoiding it. And one of the biggest assumptions we have is just who does and doesn’t read certain genres.

If you look at some of the biggest successes in the last decade, you see that several of the authors have something that links them all: Two X Chromosomes. Think about it, aside from a couple of works from the likes of Dan Brown, most of the really popular books in the last 10 to 15 years have been written by women. Why is that?

And after some contemplation, I think I’ve come upon the answer to this and the key to this “mystery”. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t really that hard. Really it’s the kind of thing that should make sense to anyone. But after listening to industry types talk about what did and didn’t sell I’ve come to realize something “profound”:

Women read books. Seriously, I looked it up and it’s totally true! Go figure, right?

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“New Sci-fi” Part One! The “Huh?”

Okay, I’ll be honest, I’m bad at this blog updating thing. Though I don’t know of anyone who’s really any good at it. I guess it’s just hard for me to sit here and talk to myself and possibly one other person when I can just simply go and do that on a regular basis. I mean, I can talk to myself anytime I want to, usually do. And as for the idea of talking to one of the few people who even realizes this page exists, well that’s just a message away.

Still, there are a few topics worth discussing here that I feel would be beating a dead horse if I kept talking about them to others on a regular basis… plus I kind of stopped listening to myself too. So I guess if the blog has a function at all it would be to vent the things that have built for a few days (or weeks, or months) and get them out in the open 100%. And what’s got me stewing this month? (aside from the sun)

“New Sci-fi”

Continue reading “New Sci-fi” Part One! The “Huh?”