The Death of Science Fiction... Again

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K_Woods

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Is this something recent or a resurgence of old material? I'm not finding anything in the first few Google links newer than 2007.
 

Kitty Pryde

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Science fiction is dead, print books are dead, the novel is dead...seems like lotsa stuff is dying off these days. Is it a massive attempt to drive traffic to people's blogs, do you think?

SF lit isn't selling as well as fantasy these days...that doesn't mean it's dead. Fantasy's just selling well. Fantasy doesn't sell as well as romance, but no one's saying fantasy's dead, long live romance. On the other hand, SF seems to be doing very well in the movies, and great SF novels continue to come out.
 

SPMiller

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Wait, is this news? Hard sf (along with horror) has been effectively dead since the 80s. Or do you mean soft sf is going the same way?
 

thothguard51

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I have heard this stuff since the mid 80's - SF& F is a dead. Twenty five years later, I still read the death notices every couple of years and I too have to wonder if this is a holdover rumor or a new rumor...

Someone should tell the writers and reader of this vanising species they are not helping the natural selection of ... only the strong survive.

All kidding aside, I think hard SF is slowing down because readers are more knowledgeable about the sciences today and will question unlikely scenaro's more than ever. But the Soft SF, where its almost a cross between SF and F mixed with almost a western theme is going to continue to grow I think because of Graphic Novels and Magazine as well as Animee and Magna which draw from a lot of SF themes...

But what do I know, I just write the stuff no matter if it sells or not...
 

Straka

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In a college photo crit we were looking at a body of work that was a sampling of photos about cyborgs and terminators. The artist explained that he was trying to go for this and that.

What I saw and said him, was I felt there was a distinction, even if it existed only within on own mind that what he was going for was "Science Fiction", what he got was "Sci-fi."

Again, only in my own mind at the time, I felt that the term "Sci-fi" was Science Fiction lite - that through mainstreaming that science fiction had lost some of its social commentary and thus, sci-fi, that depended more tropes and genre conventions.

Perhaps it's just another phase in the cycle.
 

Straka

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Yes, that basically a large active part of the genre has evolved into an different animal.

Transformers: the movie made tons of money, but it's not your Father's "Ring Around the Sun" or "Lucifer's Hammer" or your Grandfather's "War of the Worlds" for that matter.

Another example: Fantasy didn't have orcs in it until the 1960s or whenever LOTRs hit the shelves. Things change. Genres evolve.
 
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Yes, that basically a large active part of the genre has evolved into an different animal.

Transformers: the movie made tons of money, but it's not your Father's "Ring Around the Sun" or "Lucifer's Hammer" or your Grandfather's "War of the Worlds" for that matter.

Another example: Fantasy didn't have orcs in it until the 1960s or whenever LOTRs hit the shelves. Things change. Genres evolve.


I like to think they branch.
 

Polenth

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The stat of 95% of the top 100 books being fantasy isn't automatically saying that science fiction is dying. There are several things it could mean, from a statistical viewpoint.

One of which is suggested by the boingboing stats. Science fiction saw a modest increase up to 2007. Fantasy saw a big increase. So proportionally, you'd expect there to be more fantasy books in the top 100. Not because science fiction is on the decline, but because fantasy is on the increase while science fiction is remaining fairly stable.

In order to prove science fiction is declining, they'd need stats to show the number of science fiction books tailing off from 2007 onwards. Or stats to show that sales of those book have been declining. As it stands, it seems the discussion is based on gut feelings with a few vague implications saying the stats prove it (without showing those stats).

The scientist in me wants to see those stats before I make a judgement. Without them, it's based on people's perceptions, and perceptions are easily skewed to support someone's viewpoint.
 

SPMiller

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I'm not too sure what there is to worry about. Going by a sales ranking on Amazon, most fantasy novels aren't doing well, either: they're being terribly outsold by vampire/werewolf stuff.
 

jennontheisland

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I'm not too sure what there is to worry about. Going by a sales ranking on Amazon, most fantasy novels aren't doing well, either: they're being terribly outsold by vampire/werewolf stuff.
Yeah, well, there's lots of sex in most of them.
 

dmytryp

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I'm not too sure what there is to worry about. Going by a sales ranking on Amazon, most fantasy novels aren't doing well, either: they're being terribly outsold by vampire/werewolf stuff.
Well, that probably depends on the kind of fantasy :)
I am pretty sure "The Gathering storm" and "The dance with the Dragons" would outsell almost anything. The third part of "Dunk and Egg" series might as well.

But I do have to agree somewhat with the op. It's been a long while since there was a really big hit in science-fiction, other than by well known authors, and even then. What were the rankings for "Accidental Time Machine"? Who knows how many readers are there for Card's "Shadow" series, and this is after his three first Ender books were an enormous hit. The reason, I think, is that people seek a slightly lighter reading (I mean the general public), not to wade through hard science fiction thinking, "well, that can't be right."
 

DeleyanLee

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SF movies will always be popular, honestly, because the Fx are great and you can't get deep into the science without slowing the movie down too much. Movie goers are more willing to throw disbelief out the window than book readers are (probably because it's the difference of an hour or two for a movie and anywhere from an entire evening to a month--or more--devoted to reading a book). Because of the different handling of the genre in the two media, I think it's a vast disservice to compare the two to judge SF's popularity.

But, I also see this as just the cycle that interests go through. SF had a golden age, where it promised the best future, science would solve all the world's problems and offered the best stories and Fantasy, Horror and Mystery barely got published. Then Horror got very popular and rivaled SF but took a turn and almost died with very few books published for over a decade. Mystery has risen up in the last 15-20 years and is now starting to threaten Romance's dominance, with Fantasy coming up behind and SF dropped down to single digit percentages.

It all flexs because people glut on something for a few decades and then get sick of it and turn to something completely different.

Genres only die out if its authors aren't exploring it fully and reinvent it during the "lulls". Stephen King reinvented Horror. Anne Rice reinvented the vampire. Tolkien reinvented Fantasy (though it took him 20-25 years to become popular). SF is lulling right now. If you love the genre, follow your visions and maybe you'll be the one that reinvents it and brings it to the fore again.
 
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