Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Science Fiction is Dying.

Interesting article here from Mark Charan Newton:

"There is no Schadenfreude; I take no pleasure in holding this viewpoint: the Science Fiction genre is dying.

Don’t spit your coffee at the computer screen just yet. I’m talking predominantly in terms of sales over time. I know all you belle-lettristic types don’t like to think about anything but Art, but units-shifted is a factor that matters. It is what shapes the literature industry."

I couldn't help but wonder how many similar articles came out at the time, some decades ago, when the shelves were seemingly wholly populated by horror books with generic black covers. So often I've heard the claim that science fiction is dying, or dead but, every time, an attempt to nail down the coffin lid fails.

7 comments:

Giant68 said...

Maybe he's right.I search the bookshops and online sites for new authors and there seem to be more fantasy and "steampunk" than there are sci fi. Gotta admit I do buy that stuff as well, but I prefer good old sci fi. I'll just have to re-read the oldies again, Blish, Asimov etc. Hopefully someone will buy me Orbus for Christmas as I have been told not to buy anything till the new year!

mr-maigo said...

And he's sure it's not book sales as a whole?

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

and to top it off there is a lot of crap being churned out by the publishers which maybe people are sick of reading? sticking with the big hitters is ok by me. i have to keep up with old stuff and new so this crunch time does my reading time just fine.

however..

how easy would it be to give N Asher a Tanith Lee makeover hairdo and pen? i see it...

R K Morgan response was pretty swell, but he's doing some sorta teen stuff with Steel Remains might be for the elf conan slash enthusiast. that Star Trek movie was up there with all the other "funny latex nose" scifi out there.

quote:'The big zeitgeist shift that’s really coming into play here, as far as I can see, is the infantilisation of consumer society, and the death of challenge. There’s not enough space here to get into the many and massive ways in which modern consumer culture goes about this infantilisation, but suffice it to say that where the SF/F genre is concerned,the message has gone out, loud and clear, that in order to make successful artefacts of mass entertainment, you must not challenge your audience with anything that a 14 year old American mid-western teenager can’t instantly relate to. Exhibit A – the last Star Trek movie: the future and all it has to offer, crushed down in conceptual terms to fit inside the comprehension gap of a teenage boy from Iowa. What are the challenges facing this vast multi-species star-faring culture? Well, bullying from your class-mates, getting caught cheating on tests, sassy girls who won’t give it up, adults who doooooon’t understaaaaaand your teen pain, and big, stroppy guys with tattoos. '

Jebel Krong said...

never gonna happen. things go around in cycles anyway. just when you think something is jaded, something else comes along and revitalises it. books themselves might decline, but there will probably always be a market for them along with all these e-readers that are cropping up now (wake me when they have full-colour oleds rather than crappy e-ink displays).

Neal Asher said...

My take on it:

I just have to wonder if the same argument was propounded when the bookshelves turned black with horror titles a while back (70-80s?). I think all forms of fiction go through a lulls then resurgence as they update themselves, and I feel SF is one of the best at doing it, because the writers themselves (usually) are interested in current science and its implications.

I do wonder, when people talk about the death of SF, what they think happens to all the readers of that genre? Hopefully I’m going to be around for another 20 or 30 years and I’ll want my genre fix. And there are plenty of people younger than me reading it. I’d agree with the contention above if I thought everyone reading SF nowadays was a coffin-dodger, they’re not, and SF is not dying.

mr-maigo said...

20 or 30 years?
Yes please, thank you

andydbrown50 said...

I agree totally with the comment SF as we knew it is dead - when you go to amazon the number 1 SF book is a story about a sparkling vampire. I'm finding so few good authors like Asher :) or Abnett.

BUT what I'm finding is that the best sci-fi get's catergorized as Horror, Action, Mystery or sometimes even Romance.