Fascinating and Troubling review from Paul Kincaid
Thanks for the link. I agree, that it’s disturbing because it confirms something I’ve been noticing and finding very frustrating. There’s an outpouring of SF, but very little worth reading because none of it is original. Also, SF and fantasy have merged to such an extent that, unless you read reviews for every single book that looks interesting, you never know what you’re going to wind up with. Amazon’s bestseller lists, both paid and free merge the two genres, so if you just pick out titles to browse, if you’re looking strictly for SF, you waste time glancing at and rejecting fantasy.
Maybe that’s why I wind up rereading so many classics lately. The one really interesting novel I’ve read lately is by an indie writer, Intervention, by WRR Munro, a fairly solid exploration of the side effects and ethical problems of genetic engineering. Unfortunately, rather than commit to an ending, he’s writing a sequel.
At least the article tells me it’s not my imagination that something is lacking in the SF world, and that maybe the novel I’m working out right now is on the right track.
Myself, I’ve been coming around to the idea that there’s a reason why SF has lost confidence — no longer has writers believing these are ‘real’ possible futures. If SF doesn’t have that traction is just becomes another literary form. It becomes just a game. So it merges with other genres and re-vamps its past.
All true. I think the real problem is that the optimism that once sustained SF has faded because so much of it turned out to be delusional, and now we are clearly heading for difficult times. I can’t remember who’s involved (David Brin?) but a new SF site/journal is being develope specifically trying to focus on hopeful views of the future. I suspect that most of the doom and gloom scenarios come about because most writers aren’t interested in exploring our current situation in any depth, so they have nothing to offer except humanity-destroying pandemics, repressive world governments, being either saved or destroyed by aliens, etc.
I’m suspicious that the periodic calls for optimism are just nostalgia for the Golden Age (of SF, and the West). There’s a case for saying writers are reflecting the current cultural problem and it’s no good just telling them to cheer up.
I agree with your comment that our current situation doesn’t explored in depth. But with the pressure on pro sf writers to produce book after book that’s not an easy fix either! Sorry I seem to be a bit miserabilst here!
Join the miserabilist community. I look at current trends — social, political, environmental, etc., and while I acknowledge that small changes are worth working for, they have little to no effect on the big picture. There are plenty of news articles about this or that group or individual doing wonderful work in some area, but their influence is extremely limited.
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