Friday, November 09, 2007

More on Science Fiction

Having written the previous post, I read the following quote from Lyda Morehouse, SF writer and personal friend, which appeared in the Loft Literary Center Schedule:

Science fiction and fantasy often get a bad rap as the genre of Star Wars, Star Trek et al. However, if a person actually reads the literature currently being written in the SF/F genres, they will find a surprising array of social and political commentary that talks not so much about the future as the present. SF/F is the genre of radicalism, in my opinion. To write effective SF/F. a writer needs a keen awareness of the here and now and a willingness to take risks.

In contrast to this, Norman Spinrad in the SFWA Forum sees SF writers as becoming more conservative as their audience decreases. They are writing tired space operas and tedious technophilic "hard SF," retro science fiction for the graying fannish core readership, rather than trying to reach out to the rest of the world.

So, SF tropes fill popular culture, and mainstream literary authors (as Spinrad points out) are writing more and more fiction that is fantastic in one way or another. At least some prominent SF authors appear to have moved into this new mainstream, which is more welcoming to nonrealistic fiction. William Gibson's most recent novel is cutting edge present, rather than cutting edge future; and only the presence of voodoo gods takes it outside the world as we know it.

As all of this happens, the SF writers who are left behind in the genre become more and more confused about what they should be writing and where their audience lies.

Or so the argument goes.