What’s Current in Sci-Fi?

I got into a discussion with a friend on Facebook who wanted to know what was current in Sci-fi.  This is what I said at the time.  Understand that this is an excerpt from a casual discussion, not a researched article, and as such should be looked at as a blurb of general interest only, spouted off from the cuff about the general ferment that has stuck in my mind.  What do you think of when you consider this question?

Check the Hugo and Nebula award-winners for the past few years.  There’s a push to bring back a lot of the old tropes but corrected for their biases. A space opera called Binti was really huge a couple of years ago, for example, and women swept the Nebulas last year. So space opera and other pulp genres are making a comeback if you can avoid falling into racist/sexist/homophobic stereotypes (so I think you’re good!)

People are also reading a lot of slipstream, dystopia, military sci-fi and alternate history. Robert Sawyer and Margaret Atwood are kind of the big Canadian authors right now. David Weber and Eric Flint are still the reigning champions of military sci-fi and alternate history respectively, but they’re considered the pulp guys (they have yet to win an award and I doubt they will, but they’re selling more books than everyone else, if you see what I’m saying.)

Countercultural stuff is in a Renaissance. But they’re also reinventing the wheel. A big hit recently was Ancillary Justice, which won ALL the major sci-fi awards, but Jamie (my partner & editor) read it and he says it’s just a cross between space opera, The Ship Who Sang and I, Robot, with some gender blending and psychological weirdness. But I haven’t read it yet so I’m just taking his word for it.

And there’s a trend to market anything that can “pass” as a different genre as that genre, rather than sci-fi (like Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road, which is classic post-apocalyptic dystopia).

Hope this helps somewhat!

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Thank You!

Yesterday Showdown peaked at #2 in Sci-fi Westerns, #4 in Science Fiction/Fantasy One-Hour Reads, and #12 in Literature and Fiction One-Hour Reads on Amazon!  I just want to thank you for all the support!  You can still get Showdown free until June 16!

Or, if you don’t like Amazon or want to read it on your PC instead of Kindle or the Kindle phone app, you can sign up for my newsletter and get it free in epub or pdf too!

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Is Pulp Fiction Making a Comeback?

It seems that I’ve been hearing an awful lot about pulp fiction, especially pulp sci-fi, recently!  All of a sudden it’s like everyone’s talking about it!  As I’ve mentioned, I’m doing some writing for the Tales of the Stellar Deep RPG, which is clearly rooted in pulp sci-fi and horror. All of a sudden people are discovering Conan, Andre Norton, and Edgar Rice Burroughs again.  Doctor Who is in a Renaissance of fandom.  Just today I discovered that Tor Books is doing a giveaway of an Allen Steele book on Goodreads, Avengers of the Moon, which is described point blank as “pulp-inspired.”

I think we may be tired of “grim for grim’s sake” in our literature; certainly there’s enough to keep us busy in politics and economics if we want grim things to discuss!  Perhaps just like people in the Depression and the War Eras, we’ve had so much of our fill of the grimness of the world that we’d rather take our minds off things for a while, and read about heroic deeds of daring-do, where we know the hero has to survive because otherwise would would happen in the next book?  Maybe we’ve had enough adventure in our lives now that we have finally gotten over the idea that “darker” means “more sophisticated” and therefore “better.”

I love pulp science fiction!  So many things that have become so important to the genre originated in those little pulp books!  I would love it if this were true!

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For SF&F Writers: Speculative Elements Should Be Used Selectively

Some advice from a First Reader of sci-fi and fantasy.

Notes From The Slush Pile

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So submissions for Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores reopened recently, and I’ve already spotted a trend in the Slush Pile irritating enough to make me jump back into the blog, despite still being on holiday. Unconvincing and poorly written characters and settings can ruin any story. I covered various ways to avoid this in my recent BuildingBelievableWorldsposts. As a First Reader and lover of all things speculative, a deciding factor for me in rejecting a story is when the science fiction or fantasy elements of are poorly developed and unnecessary to the actual plot.

Writers looking to avoid this should ask themselves what the point of their given element is. For example, why is a story being set on a space station if it just has the characters walking around and talking to one another? They could still do that very easily if they weren’t in space…

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Are We Looking for Aliens in All the Wrong Ways?

A thought-provoking article worth considering.  Some of their data isn’t quite up to date, but this doesn’t hurt the article’s ideas or sentiments; though the simple answer for why we’re not doing all this is not that the points aren’t valid, and that some of these speculations may well be correct, but we’re literally looking for a needle in a cosmic haystack, and we have to start somewhere.

Article: Are We Looking for Aliens in All the Wrong Ways? from the blog Starts with a Bang, courtesy of Forbes Magazine.

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