Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Science Fiction Down the Tubes"?

Jeremy's post "Science Fiction Down the Tubes" at The Voltage Gate drew several responses recommending current sf writers who do, indeed, write about science: Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, David Brin, Greg Egan, John Kessel, Geoffrey A. Landis, Wil McCarthy, Alistair Reynolds, Kim Stanley Robinson, Joan Slonczewski and Charles Stross. To those I would add, off the top of my head, Stephen Baxter, Mike Brotherton, Ted Chiang, Cory Doctorow, Nancy Kress, Syne Mitchell, Christopher Rowe and Rudy Rucker. The magazines Analog, Asimov's, Interzone and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction are full of the stuff, as are the annual volumes The Year's Best Science Fiction, edited by Gardner Dozois, and Year's Best SF, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. Hartwell and Cramer also co-edited a couple of enormous honking recent anthologies that include much recent material as well as "classic" stuff: The Space Opera Renaissance and The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard SF. I think more good sf is being written and published now than ever was published in any other decade. Does it sell well? Not as well as fantasy. Are its authors household names? No. Can you tell the good books from the bad by looking at their covers? No. Best resources for pointing the way to new writers: the frequent New Books updates at Locus Online and the book reviews published monthly in the print version, Locus, to which every serious sf reader should subscribe (along with at least one of the magazines listed above).

I'm curious, Jeremy, why you write of Neil Gaiman: "Gaiman is considered science fiction without any semblance of science incorporated into his work." Is Gaiman considered science fiction? This is news to me. I thought he was considered a fantasist. Maybe you're annoyed that his books are shelved under Science Fiction? That bookstores and libraries shelve fantasy and science fiction together is old news, and entirely forgiveable old news at that. Most science fiction writers write fantasy, too, and vice versa, and 'twas ever thus, and the same magazines and publishers publish both, and 'twas ever thus, and the Science Fiction Writers of America changed its name to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America years ago, and I can't even keep the genres separate on my own shelves, so why should Main Street Books make the attempt?

1 Comments:

Blogger Jeremy Bruno said...

That post did exactly what I wanted it to; I wanted some recommendations, and I have received an overwhelming number of authors to look up. If you ask a polite question on the blogosphere, you tend not to receive an answer. Phrase it as a curmudgeonly critique, however, and you get a bunch.

The call for change is mostly for my own convenience, by not entirely without merit. I think we can agree that genre categorization is arbitrary; Vonnegut and Orwell have written speculative fiction/fantasy and wind up in the Fiction section. To me, the writings of Bradbury and Clark are starkly different and it could be useful to split them for reference's sake. One is not better than the other; they are just different genres of writing.

As far as Gaiman is concerned, he just irritates me. He's a good comic book writer, but a terrible novelist, caught up in his Hot Topic goth-boy schtick.

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Had a busy couple of weeks.

10:11 AM  

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