Sci Fi, Writing Tips

Sci Fi Glory Days

Last February, I posted about the decline of science fiction.  An article appeared today at The World SF Blog that picks up precisely where my piece left off.

The author, Guy Hasson, postulates that rumors of science fiction’s death have been greatly exaggerated, but admits that its glory days may be behind it.  He argues that Science Fiction has become too specialized, insular and familiar to be relevant for the larger culture.  When it should be about “being brave and different and new,” it is instead written for people “looking for more of the same.”  This he contends has created a proliferation of overly specific sub-genres for “fans who already have foreknowledge in SF matters.”

Authors need to step up and, as Ezra Pound famously remarked, “make it new.”

SF is neither dead nor dying. It is currently losing the glory it once had and the wondrous, glorious feelings it used to convey. All these points need to be corrected: SF is now mostly non-inclusive, alienating ‘regular’ or even new readers; SF is no longer influential; SF is no longer brave; and the SF genres are the straight path to killing the glory of original SF.

Who can fix it? Authors can fix it, by trying to return to write brave and influential stories that can be easily read by those who don’t like SF. Authors can return to seek originality, first and foremost by looking outside the established sub-genres.

But that is not going to be enough. Because publishers need to want to publish brave, genre non-specific and perhaps even political SF. For the publishers to change their ways, the readers need to do something, as well. SF readers need to stop being scared. They need to find feelings of comfort in other genres and read SF for the thrill of the threat it may have on their lives. SF readers need to clamor for something brave and new, original and breathtaking, glorious and frightening.

While I may not entirely agree with his assessment, Hasson is a sci fi author himself and practices what he preaches.  There’s an interesting interview in which he claims one of the major appeals of science fiction is “the ability to take things a couple of steps further than realistic drama allows us. When ‘normal’ people hear that you’re writing or reading science fiction, they think about spaceships and special effects. But the truth is that science fiction usually means going all the way with an idea or a thought or an emotion.”  Now that’s an inception I can endorse!