May 26, 2020, 09:54:42 AM

Author Topic: The Decline of Science Fiction  (Read 11203 times)

Offline OneChapterMore

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2013, 09:58:48 AM »
I think the issue is with 'big-name' SF authors. We haven't had a 'Mar Trilogy' or a 'Hyperion', or even a 'Snow Crash' or 'Neuromancer' for a while. Those books that are considered classics and cross the boundaries of 'populist' SF, and SF that is more appreciated by the connoisseur.

I think the Hugo award meltdown shows this - the quality of the Hugo is the quality of populist SF. Where populist fandom collides with the online blogs, the critics etc., that means that the populist SF choices aren't good enough. However, there is still excellent SF being produced - Beukes, Smythe, Roberts to name but 3.
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Offline Lionwalker

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Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2013, 07:30:30 PM »
I really wouldn't hold Scalzi up as the voice of the new wave of SF. His work is entirely derivative. It is relatively enjoyable, but doesn't deal with the larger issues that made those big names what they were. The problem with much of the SF now is that it seems hurried, skimming over many of the issues in favour of driving the plot forward, more akin to movies than thoughtful, considered works that make up much of the older novels.
Many of the big names are out there still, mentioned by Pornokitsch above. There is also the problem with exposure. How much effort do you put into finding good SF instead of waiting for the lowest-common-denomitor works to be handed out by marketing campaings?
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Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2013, 11:38:35 PM »
I was going along, reading the thread, and thinking "YES.  I know exactly what you mean" but then I was also thinking about what I've been reading.  Karl Schroeder's Sun of Suns is one I'm currently reading that I'm really liking, but I run into some problems with the world building...

I think what we are all really craving is another landmark series written by either an established SF author, or someone brand new that takes us all by surprise.  I don't discount any of the authors that others have mentioned here, but I feel like I'm waiting for something completely original and almost revolutionary. 
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Offline Sean Cunningham

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2013, 05:47:54 PM »
I really wouldn't hold Scalzi up as the voice of the new wave of SF. His work is entirely derivative. It is relatively enjoyable, but doesn't deal with the larger issues that made those big names what they were.

I haven't read any of his stuff because Old Man's War is in first person, which I usually don't get along with, but I gather it wears its Heinlein influences on its sleeve? Does it not have anything more to say than Heinlein-style sci-fi romp?

Science fiction is the shape and concerns of the modern world projected onto the future. The modern world changes so fast, who can imagine it one hundred years from now?
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Offline CptNemo

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2013, 03:36:45 AM »
Kim Stanley Robinson released 2312 last year. William Gibson is working on a new novel that sounds very interesting. But I agree that SF needs a new superstar, and after quitting The Quantum Thief, I don't think it's going to be Hannu Rajaniemi.

I remember reading that the Fantasy market has always been significantly larger than SF's. Fantasy is also really hot right now, and I suspect publishers are trying to put as many GoT-esque novels on the shelves as possible. So maybe there are many brilliant SF novels being written, but publishers don't think they can make money with them. SF has always been edgier than Fantasy and I wonder if the big publishers are similar to Hollywood, thinking that the really cool stuff is too subtle or cerebral to appeal to a mass market.

Offline ScatteredK

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2013, 11:42:27 PM »
I've come across some new stuff, Will McIntosh for example-I think he may be worth watching. But I do feel that we haven't had an epic George RR Martin type SF novel/trilogy/series come out recently.

While I do consider Justin Cronin's Passage trilogy to be epic so far (book three isn't out yet)....I just want more from this genre  :P
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Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2013, 09:03:29 PM »
There's still a cuddyload of amazing SF being published, it's just that SF is a niche market within a niche section of the bookshop. In sales terms, Heinlein and Asimov were farts - and not even loud ones! - compared to the hurricanes that were Salinger, Fleming, DuMaurier, LeCarré or Robbins. We just think they were giants because a decent amount of their stuff is still in print.

In niche markets giants are declared retroactively. Gordon R. Dickson sold a lot of books in the '70s and so did Larry Niven. Their styles weren't too dissimilar, either. Time declared Niven the 'giant' and finding a Dickson now is difficult outside of the second hand market.

We'll know who the current SF 'giants' are in ten or fifteen years time when we can still find the novels published recently on the shelves. My money's on Banks, Beukes, Baxter, Roberts and Miéville (Note: Survivors may be different outside the UK we don't get every US release and vice versa).
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Offline pornokitsch

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2013, 12:40:35 PM »
I think the definition of science fiction is also do for a refresh. "Core" science fiction of rocket ships and space opera really isn't doing so well, but near-future social SF is soaring.

Kind of like the magical realism of the SF movement, perhaps.

Plus, all the genres are constantly blending together. Most of the super-popular YA dystopian stories are SF, for example. SF bleeds into fantasy with the way that magical systems get super-duper rational. Sanderson's Mistborn, for one - it reads just as much like Golden Age SF as it does an epic fantasy. Etc. Etc.

Definitely SF is at a key point in its evolution, and I'm curious what happens over the next few years. But it ain't dying.


Offline Idlewilder

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2013, 04:25:59 PM »
(Caveat - I'm mainly discussing "Space Opera" SF here)

I'd like to see some sort of return to the golden age of SF and space opera, but with a distinctly modern edge. I don't mean overdoing it with crazy SF tech that only science majors can understand, but rather something like we've seen in fantasy in the last 10 years. A return to putting the characters at the centre of the story and seeing what makes them tick. Something like, for anyone who's read it, the first part of Jack Glass by Adam Roberts. That's distinctly SF, set in space and has the rosey tint to it that harks back to golden age SF, but it's all about the characters, and it feels jazzed up and modern in the writing. (As it happens, Roberts' short story collection, Adam Robots, also contains some of the same style in those stories)

It needs that one guy to come up with a solid novel (or trilogy, or trilogy of five parts, or whatever) that takes everything you see in novels by guys like Scalzi, Hamilton and Robinson and just narrows the focus and shows us what makes the characters tick. The setting is like the icing on the cake, and from what I've read in SF recently (and admittedly, that's not a great deal) it does seem like the setting (and with it, the tech) is what these writers are focusing on, rather than the characters.

To summarise: I probably don't know what I'm talking about, but I thought I'd spew up some words anyway.  :o
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Offline Charlemagne

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2013, 05:58:55 PM »
Even if you don't know what you're saying, it still sounded pretty good!

I completely agree, by the way. The reason I started this thread was because for the longest time, I hadn't read any recently-published sci-fi that I really, actually enjoyed. Now, I have been proved conclusively wrong in my assumption that there wasn't a lot (or at least, not as much), science fiction being published. However, I think the reason that I haven't been enjoying new scifi is because it is, simply just not as good.

Science Fiction needs a revamp (I agree with everyone who's said that), but what kind of revamp, I don't know. I'm just along for the ride. 8)
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Offline spoonofmilk

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #25 on: August 20, 2013, 11:00:59 AM »
I guess it all kinda comes down to themes... sci-fi authors generally like playing around with new ideas and it kinda feels like the new ideas are drying up. The waves of good sci-fi tend to coincide with interesting jumps in real-life science and research. The 90s kinda saw a heap of techno-thrillers from the likes of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson... the 00s had a dystopian future feel, particularly when the wheels came off the economic wagon... I can only guess what might be around the corner!

At the moment I'm reading a lot of self-published works via iBooks and Amazon Kindle stores... a lot of it is quite derivative, as you'd expect, with plenty of issues... but by and large they tend to be quite readable for short bursts.

Offline Dloheeb

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2013, 11:03:40 PM »
Thats correct. And i think we sci-fi fans are at the beginning of an up cycle on good sci-fi publications. You can see this in the box office whit lots of Sci-fi block busters and in the general media there are plenty of publications about interesting, mind boggling, sci-fi related science: new planets,space  explorations, Elon musk and his space program, the mars one program and just today i read this on space.com: http://www.space.com/22430-star-trek-warp-drive-quantum-thrusters.html . I have been following this news for years now and my god the rate of progress that this guy is making. I want to believe in a warp experiment in my lifetime. ... "i want to believe"

About that dystopian part just a great tip: We from Yevgeny Zamyatin. A sci-fi dystopian from 1921.  Mind boggling stuff!
« Last Edit: August 21, 2013, 11:06:27 PM by Dloheeb »

Offline joshfishkins

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #27 on: October 01, 2013, 11:59:47 AM »
I'm still fairly new to reading sci-fi - I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of sci-fi books I had read before I became a member here!

But there are definitely a couple of authors that have debuted within the last couple of years that I have really enjoyed reading:

- Hannu Rajaniemi ~ The Quantum Thief
- Adam Christopher ~ Empire State

and I am looking forward to reading the sequels to both those books (as time and funds allow).

I wasn't sure about the Quantum Thief. It had a great setup, but then seemed to lose all pace as it essentially set up a sequel. I hope SF doesn't go the way of fantasy and be all about the 'franchise'.

I despair more for horror than I do scifi at the moment.

Offline Dan D Jones

Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #28 on: January 10, 2014, 09:54:10 PM »

Offline Nighteyes

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Re: The Decline of Science Fiction
« Reply #29 on: January 10, 2014, 10:11:49 PM »
Iain M Banks is still going strong...

Regretfully, I'm afraid that's not the case:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jun/09/iain-banks-dies-59-cancer

Do you not check date stamps on posts before replying to them? Or just have a morbid love of posting bad news?  There is a whole thread even dedicated in memoriam to Iain Banks. We know and we have mourned his loss.
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