Thursday, July 17, 2008

Where is SF Going?

A couple of blog posts ago, I wrote about Harlan Ellison's challenge to the SF community at the 2006 Nebula Award Banquet. I countered by pointing out that what was dangerous in 1968 is commonplace in 2008. That said, where do I think the genre is going?

The New Wave movement in Ellison's heyday was a transition stage where writers were challenging the boundaries of the genre. Today, with the boundaries over the horizon in all directions, where do we focus our energy?

One small but vocal group clambers for what is known as "mundane" SF. This is an artificial subgenre, defined by restricting the speculative element to what is possible today. But mundane SF is nothing new, only the name is new. This is not our future.

As I mentioned the other day, pretty much all the boundaries have been pushed out so far there isn't much chance of pushing them anymore. I don't think so, but horizon-pushing is going to become more and more rare. If not mundane or dangerous, what then?

Newer writers are migrating to the past, but taking the lessons of the new wave along with them. The focus has returned to good story. Writers like Tobias Buckell and John Scalzi are returning to the spirit of Robert Heinlein, writing good stories with sympathetic characters.

That's what it's all about--writing to entertain. There's still room for dangerous visions when we can find them., as long as we keep the reader satisfied.


Tobias Buckell said...

Oh, thanks for the props, Rick.

Rick Novy said...

No problem. That's what you write, entertaining stories.

I went back and linked your site, something I neglected to do yesterday.

Rick Novy said...

Wow, I really was heavy-eyed while posting this. Corrected or clarified several points.

^JR^ said...

I agree, It should be all about the story. But I think this means different things to different readers (and writers).

Most read for the pure enjoyment of fiction.

Some read to go beyond enjoyment and escape the doldrums of their daily lives, even if its just for a little while.

And another smaller fraction (in my IMHO)read to actually take something with them from the story. Whether it be just a better understanding of the subject that was written, or even expanding their own thinking and being opened up to new concepts that they hadn't even considered.

There was a physicist on Coast to Coast AM the other night who said he was opened up to theoetical physics and time travel theory by both Einstein and H.G. Wells when he was kid.

Of course Einstein isn't fiction, but he certainly helped this guy out.

So where Do I think SF is going..or should go? As long as SF still gets people to think outside the box while they are being entertained, I think we're right where we need to be...which is pretty much where we should've always been...In my opinon, that is.

Rick Novy said...

So, JR. I pose a question to you. Why is fantasy currently out-selling science fiction?