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View Full Version : is sci-fi/fantasy popular?



preyer
03-10-2005, 05:56 AM
compared to, let's say, ten years ago, how does sci-fi/fantasy compare in terms of popularity? does anyone pay attention to any best selling lists to see how many times the genre/s hit? just curious.

Vomaxx
03-10-2005, 08:01 AM
I think the success of the Lord of the Rings movies gave fantasy a boost (although those who were impressed with the whiz-bang tempo of Peter Jackson's films may get quite a jolt if they actually read Tolkien).

arkady
03-10-2005, 07:07 PM
I think you have only to walk into a few of your local bookstores and take a look at the size of the SF/F racks to answer that question.

SFEley
03-11-2005, 02:06 AM
compared to, let's say, ten years ago, how does sci-fi/fantasy compare in terms of popularity? does anyone pay attention to any best selling lists to see how many times the genre/s hit? just curious.

If you really want to know, Locus (the predominant news magazine of the genre) keeps track of sales figures and reports on this stuff every year. They track genre titles on the bestseller lists, too.

But I suspect the question you asked isn't the question you really want answered. I think what you're really asking is, "If I write a science fiction or fantasy novel today, will it sell a gazillion copies and allow me to buy that great big house up in the mountains with a great big swimming pool and lots of parties with hot scantily-clad SF/F fans fawning over my every word?"

And the answer to that is: Yeah, sure. If you can write a story that's so good that a gazillion people will want to read it. If you can sell that story to a publisher that loves it as much as you do, and if they market it properly, and if your luck is pretty good, and if your contract is decent, and if you can find enough hot fans to fill a room. (They're out there, they're just thinly scattered among the typical fannish population.) >8->

But market trends? Forget market trends. Good stories, well-marketed, create market trends. There's a certain British series that comes to mind -- so popular the New York Times had to create a separate children's bestseller list just to clear up the fiction list. If Rowling had been nervous enough to ask beforehand how big the market was in children's fantasy, the answer would not even have been relevant.

preyer
03-11-2005, 03:11 AM
yeah, the sci-fi/fantasy section is always fairly good sized, but also it's rather jamming two genres together, i've always felt. i suppose because both genres are perceived to have the same basic fan base, they think it's alright to combine, though i'd much prefer them separated.

nah, i don't think i'll get a legion of fans willing to worship my unmentionables. i wouldn't turn them away, but.... just curious where the genre stood in the eye of public.

Anaparenna
03-11-2005, 04:46 AM
but also it's rather jamming two genres together, i've always felt. i suppose because both genres are perceived to have the same basic fan base, they think it's alright to combine, though i'd much prefer them separated.
And sometimes they cram horror in there too. Bleh. (Not bleh to horror, but bleh to cramming them all together.)


but.... just curious where the genre stood in the eye of public.

I tend to run across a fairly specific divide of preferences when I talk to people about it. Some won't touch it with a ten-foot pole. Some love it.

I happen to be a teacher who loves and writes it. I even managed to squirm my way into a rather dry teacher's publication with an article of how to use SF&F in the classroom. I try to sneak books into my students' hands when they're least suspecting it, so as to help foster a greater appreciation for it for the future. :)

nightwalker7
03-18-2005, 09:53 AM
I know from talking to them that most people that stock the shelves at the local book store have no idea of the difference between sci fi and fantasy but the publishers should and it is an injustice to put them to gether both to the reader and the writer and shows a great short sitedness on the part of the publisher.
If you examine the difference and you will find it easy to do you will see that fantasy is exactly that where sci fi takes a point of science and uses it to weave a story with. While the writer might streatch the point it must to one degree or another remain a point of science. If the point os science is lost then so is the reality of the possibility.
The question I like to ask is: Was Juels Verne so intune with what was happening in his world that he forsaw what was coming and spurred to right about it? Or. Was what he wrote so good that it inspired men to, consiously or subconsiously set out to make it happen?
There are no such circular questions in fantasy. Tolken wrote great things but what have they inspired? I mean unless you consider a bunch of people with nothing better to do than sit around and learn how to talk elvish insperation.
Thanks for letting me rant and rave.
Bill

DaveKuzminski
03-18-2005, 05:19 PM
The question I like to ask is: Was Juels Verne so intune with what was happening in his world that he forsaw what was coming and spurred to right about it? Or. Was what he wrote so good that it inspired men to, consiously or subconsiously set out to make it happen?

No more so than many other good SF writers. Give it a few moments of thought and it becomes obvious that he knew there would be advancements as had already happened with railroads. The first operable submarine was used in the American Revolution. The first successful submarine attack took place in the American Civil War. Balloons were also used in the American Civil War. Verne simply advanced the technology just as modern writers have done in imagining interstellar ships when we're still stuck with a space shuttle capable of just barely reaching orbit.

victoriastrauss
03-18-2005, 08:09 PM
The last survey I read pegged sf/fantasy sales at around 6% of the total fiction market (compared with more than 40% for romance and around 20% for mystery). The only genre less popular is literary fiction.

- Victoria

preyer
03-18-2005, 09:06 PM
ouch. that's a pretty startling statistic. is it fair to say, then, that if you're a SF/F writer, you're going to work harder at making a living than being a romance writer?

i also felt verne had a natural gift at taking the current state of technology and foreseeing its evolution. what makes him special in this regard is 1) he was virtually an inventor even if you minused out the fiction surrounding the technology and 2) we have the benefit of seeing how his ideas came to fruition, so to speak and 3) while writers today certainly are doing the same thing, it seems much less impressive given the notion that access to very specific technology is much easier to get, that is verne's job came off as imagination/looking into the future whereas today writers can, by virtue of science having advanced to much, take a bizarre idea and find some validity for it.

i think verne is remembered best today for his ideas, not his writing. i never read too much by him, but i always recall him being a very underrated writer. of course he wrote more in the style of the times, rather in a very victorian upright manner to me, but the prose was otherwise amazing. i say that and i can't remember a single example to cite. :)

victoriastrauss
03-18-2005, 09:23 PM
ouch. that's a pretty startling statistic. is it fair to say, then, that if you're a SF/F writer, you're going to work harder at making a living than being a romance writer?I think that if you're a writer of any sort, you shouldn't count on making a living from it. Most writers don't.

- Victoria

preyer
03-18-2005, 10:01 PM
this is true, of course, just from a 'what sells' standpoint, sounds like you're better off, financially, writing romance, eh? i mean, if you wanted to get your creative ya ya's out *and* turn a buck, i've seen romance books set on a space ship (don't quote me, but i think it was kat martin who did that), and certainly historical romance might satisfy a lot of fantasy-prone writers. you shouldn't change what you want to write, but from a 'practical' side, you're better off writing romance?

looking at 'get with the genre', is the order in which the genres listed pretty indicative of their popularity?

victoriastrauss
03-19-2005, 02:10 AM
this is true, of course, just from a 'what sells' standpoint, sounds like you're better off, financially, writing romance, eh?I don't really know the answer to that. Beginning advances in romance can be even lower than those in sf/fantasy, but as the books tend to sell more copies, I think there's probably a greater likelihood of earning out and getting royalty checks.

On the other hand, some sf/fantasy writers bang 'em out at a tremendous pace, and I imagine make a good living as a result.

Also, the huge romance market share reflects not just bigger sales for individual books, but vastly more titles published. And careers in romance aren't any more secure than careers in other genres. I'm a member of NINC, a multi-genre writers' organization that has a strong romance membership, and it's rife with tales of dead careers and rejected book proposals and name changes to disguise a poor track record.

- Victoria

preyer
03-19-2005, 12:17 PM
i can imagine, lol.

most of the romance readers i know go through romance novels like their favourite cola on a hot day. were they to read strictly sci-fi, they'd go through the average stock of a bookstore in a few months.

not to change the subject, but do you find romance to be more formulatic than SF and/or F?

victoriastrauss
03-19-2005, 07:38 PM
not to change the subject, but do you find romance to be more formulatic than SF and/or F?I don't read romance, so I really couldn't say. For the most part, I also don't read formulaic SF or fantasy, or what looks to me like formulaic SF or fantasy (though occasionally I get some to review).

I think there's formulaic fiction in any genre. I think readers like it--it's comforting and cozy and they know what to expect. Like a nice soft recliner, or comfort food. I went through a phase like that in my teens with Arthurian fiction. Can't stand it now.

- Victoria