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Science Fiction > Has Science Fiction Lost Its Mojo?

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message 1: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments I saw an interesting argument brewing on the internet: Namely that SF no longer serves any purpose. The logic here is that we live our lives in a technologically driven world, and that much SF of the past is now just everyday stuff. We talk about setting up a Moon/Mars base and even mining asteroids. As amazing as all that is, many would simply shrug it off as: stuff already discussed in some darn SF novel or another. Been there done that! Yawn...

So, I put it to all you out there. Has SF lost it's Mojo. Is it no longer a meaningful harbinger of possible futures? Is it no longer relevant? Let me know what you think.


message 2: by Sean (new)

Sean DeLauder (sean_delauder) | 11 comments I think that depends entirely upon what you believe the purpose of sci-fi to be. Personally, I think technology will continue to imitate the imaginations of science fiction writers (still waiting for the supersuits of Robert Heinlein). We still haven't hit reached a point of future shock, so I think SF still has room to run.

For me, science fiction is a way to explore human nature outside of conventional locales. Frankly, I think it's a more interesting way to explore them, while at the same time project where humanity is headed. I would hope we SF writers don't have to surrender the remainder of our fans to the occult and supernatural already (frankly, I'm already a little burnt out on vampires and zombies).

I think so long as people retain a sense of adventure and curiosity about what may be, sci-fi will have a place. Whether it gets the respect it deserves is another matter entirely. And whether or not publishers choose to publish works that are brave enough to make bold predictions will also play a part.


message 3: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments Sean wrote: "I think that depends entirely upon what you believe the purpose of sci-fi to be."

It's an excellent point, and heightens the nature of this question. Let's go back in time; I would think it was fairly easy to understand the purpose SF in the 30s. It acted as a literary laboratory where predictions of man's future were made in every conceivable permutation. Sometimes the message wan't pleasant, but that didn't matter. SF provided warnings of a ever changing future, proven quite correct when nuclear bombs and the landing on the moon became reality.

And today? You were quite right about surrendering to the occult. SF seems to have been watered down by every form of Fantasy imaginable, relegating classical Hard SF to the smallest parcel of space. Some would argue -not everyone mind you-- that this blurring of genre is taking place precisely because SF has lost its way. It has almost nothing to say as a pure genre (or is it that no one is listening?) and simply blurs into the background.... meaningless, and irrelevant.


message 4: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments Sam wrote: "It is hard to spin a speculative tale and convince a reader about the "what if's" when reality has such a strong hold."

Exactly. The fact that we live in hyper global capitalistic economy makes it that much harder for SF to have meaning. And the more we try to explore dreams? Well, that's the Fantasy card.


message 5: by Sean (last edited Jun 04, 2012 09:06PM) (new)

Sean DeLauder (sean_delauder) | 11 comments Sam wrote: "Humanity needs dreams. It needs to explore and discover. Science fiction will always be there to help with that, even when humanity falls short."

Amen. The world is getting smaller, but the Universe(s) remains, for all intents and purposes, infinite (see: Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, to cite members of the old guard), and ripe for exploration. And there's always the Universe within as well (H.G. Wells, Michael Crichton). And I think there's plenty of room for a Philip K. Dickish (Dickensian is, tragically, taken... what do you call a Philip K. Dick-like book without sounding obscene?) dystopia or social analysis.

If science fiction loses its way, I blame two things: a lack of intelligent observation caboosed by imagination on the part of the writers AND/OR a publishing industry that takes the safe bet over the visioneer.


message 6: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments Sean wrote: "Sam wrote: "....a lack of intelligent observation caboosed by imagination on the part of the writers AND/OR a publishing industry that takes the safe bet over the visioneer. ."

The publishing industry has done a wonderful job over the past 30 years training the readership to want formulated stories sanitized of anything that makes a person think. It was a business model that made them money.

But let's not forget the warnings of all those who saw Star Wars as the beginning of the end of SF: Looks like they might have been right. Scary right.


message 7: by Bob (new)

Bob R Bogle (bobrbogle) I suppose I must play the devil's advocate in this discussion. It's not that I really disagree with what anyone has said per se, but perhaps I simply reject the interpretation of how many of you are reading the cards, and what implications this may hold for our future as readers, and as writers.

Star Wars took SF to extraordinary new heights, but the vastly expanded audience appears to have, over the last few decades, reduced published SF to a low least common denominator. I don't "blame" Star Wars for this – I myself was completely blown away the very first time I saw that never-ending Imperial Cruiser scroll by overhead, and nothing could ever be the same again – but clearly that movie is a bookmark in the SF timeline: there is SF before Star Wars, and SF after Star Wars.

Market forces inevitably have wreaked havoc on SF, but you know what? Duh. Market forces have distorted every aspect of life in the modern world. Bemoaning the fact is understandable, and I've done quite a lot of it myself, but no matter how trenchant these complaints are, they're also finally not terribly relevant. You want to change how things are, you have to stop complaining about it and go out and write novels that start to make the world more like the one you want to inhabit. And now is exactly the time to do it.

For I must tell you that I feel the future of speculative fiction, or future fiction, looks brighter to me right now than it has for a long, long time. Why is that? Precisely because of the promise of ebooks, which of course are in the process of irreparably demolishing the publishing industry as we've always known it. This means that the possibility of writing truly mind-bending stories and getting them to an audience becomes every day more possible than it was the day before. So what are you all waiting for? A gaping hole is being torn in the wall of those evil forces which have undermined the great promise that future fiction once held out. So dive through that hole now while you've got the chance!

That said, part of the problem, I've got to tell you, is not simply evil and overwhelming market forces, but a failure of the longtime fans of SF to fully recognize and/or admit that a deeper change has taken place than is usually considered. Yes, I'm talking about your culpability, yours personally. It seems obvious to me that the purity of the science fiction genre, if there ever really was such a thing, is gone for good. I loved some of those hard science fiction novels too, but in truth I say good riddance to the notion that anyone has to feel any loyalty to any genre at all anymore. When a reader says she only reads within a few genres, say, YA and dystopia, she's artificially prejudging and foolishly dismissing great swaths of literature with a phony superior air. She might as well say the cover illustration was too green instead of her preferred shades of blue. She's automatically and unwittingly condemning herself to inhabit a much, much smaller world than the infinite universe that's awaiting us all out there. If you're convinced you only like science fiction, as plenty of you are, you're just as guilty as she is. And what's worse, perhaps, is – and you really ought to know this if you don't, although on some deep, unexplored level you probably already do know it – the vast majority of human beings on planet Earth, hearing the words "science fiction," instantaneously dismiss it en bloc as ghetto fiction. As long as we, who actually like the stuff and know better, allow these kinds of conditions to prevail, the stories that we like will never be recognized as legitimate literature. Never. And if you care about these kinds of stories, you ought to feel a measure of humiliation about that fact. You really should.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean I want this kind of fiction to die. Far from it. I mean I want new writers to recognize that evolution is not only necessary, but that in fact it's a good thing.

Speculative fiction, future fiction, science fiction: the point, it seems to me, is that the hallmark of these stories is that they inhabit a different universe than the one in which we find ourselves. It may be in a future time, or in the present or a past parallel slipstream time, or imaginary technology may be important to the story. Now in theory I can think of no a priori reason why any of this should be anathema to legitimate literature. Most novels are set in the past, recent or remote; why should something set in the future automatically be disqualified as objectionable? I would suggest to you that it has nothing to do with tense or temporal setting, and everything to do with the low-quality, pulpy origins of our genre, and the cloying connotations that cling to it and which are instantly evoked every time anyone utters the words "science fiction."

I want to believe in a better world in the future than the one we have today. We could sure use one. I believe it is possible. I believe writers of speculative fiction can and will help show the way. But the way forward is never to hope nostalgically for a return to the past. Terminal conservatism brings nothing but death. The way forward is not to ask has science fiction lost its mojo, but to ask what new things we as writers are going to do to fill the vacuum that's been left behind by what we used to know as science fiction.

We cannot write the same old stories anymore. I think we must look for new fusions. Not, I hope, with cartoon fantasies about vampires, zombies and the like: that stuff's fine, but it debases the steel-hard strength and promise of what I'm talking about.

No. Speculative fiction needs to fuse with truly literary forms. None of us should even debate it, in my opinion, for that only suggests doubt and division, and I don't think there's any real doubt about it. Our new stories and novels need to combine visions of the future with complex human characters in the greatest literary traditions. Get rid of the laser battles; in fact, get rid of as many killings and as much gratuitous violence as possible. Pure escapism is fun, but it cheapens us. We can trust Hollywood to travel that road. Let's set out on a different path. A better one.

We can be gold. Let's not be brass.

And let's be in the vanguard of restoring hope in the promise of infinitely unknown and unknowable futures instead of forever seeking solace in trying – and inevitably failing – to restore an imaginary golden age out of the past.


message 8: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments Bob wrote: "I suppose I must play the devil's advocate in this discussion."

Let me play devil's advocate to your devil's advocate...er...if that makes any sense.

Much of your argument is that we need to evolve and begin both reading and writing better stories. Stories that elevate SF out of the ghetto and put it squarely in the realm of literature, while (and I think this is an important bit) allowing peaceful co-existance with non-literary genre SF because we don't want to dampen down anything that is not bad per se. After all, Star Wars isn't harmful really. It's just not saying all that much.

I wonder... can we have such a peaceful co-existance? That would require a general population that can pick out and distinguish great lit. In such a world some average Joe on the street would look at two books...say Galileo's Dream and Star Wars: The Clone Wars and know the intrinsic differences. Not that there is anything wrong with The Clone Wars book, but aren't we asking a lot here? Everyone would have to be a major fan of SF to understand the difference.

Even funnier. Can we expect the general public to pick out some particular Romance, Horror and Mystery novel as high literature? I suppose some novels must breakout of the mold. But our discussion is not about particular books. We're talking about the whole genre.

I guess my point is this. It's all or nothing. Either SF grows up, or it stays in the ghetto. From a practical standpoint, we would be better off to find the good stuff, and label it Speculative Fiction. Maybe it's just a word, and a superficial fix. But it's not fettered by all the derogatory baggage we have in SF.


message 9: by Bob (new)

Bob R Bogle (bobrbogle) Well . . . yes and no, Saul.

Yes, I think overall SF should stop dreaming of a return to a nostalgic, glorious past and try to evolve into something new. Yes, I think now is precisely the time to do so, to strike while the iron is hot. Now, while those whom some of you have identified as the big obstacle, the publishing industry, is weaker than ever before. I think SF is foundering – and from what I've seen in this thread, there does seem to be a consensus crystallizing around this proposition – and I believe it's on account of a failure to adapt or die. Readers will read what they want to read, and if we don't acknowledge and accept that reality, then we will not have readers. So I'm not advocating that we make the self-destructive mistake of writing pretentious, fuddy-duddy old novels that put people to sleep; that's not the kind of literary fusion with SF that I envision. Rather, I want to see novels that entertain as they lift us out of the same-old-same-old.

A brilliant book is a brilliant book even if it doesn't initially garner a blockbuster readership. Its reputation can build slowly and eventually be recognized as pivotal in retrospect. I believe the shoot-em-up crowd will accept more literary and thoughtful fiction, but it requires writers to slowly wean them from their unhealthy diet of the same. To wake them up gradually from their fruitless, strictly escapist dreams. Escapist fantasies are certainly fine now and then, but they lack staying power within the collective unconscious. They are here in a flash and within a year or two they've faded into obscurity. More thoughtful books like, shall we mention a few, Frankenstein, 1984, and Dune do stay with us; to use a perilous and controversial literary term, they enter the SF canon. Jeeze, whatever else may be true, Dune was and continues to be wildly popular among the generally literary-tone-deaf masses, and clearly Dune's no lowbrow read, so no one should try to tell me that the public just won't read better quality SF novels.

No, I don't mean and I don't require that the audience must be educated to know good literature when they see it. I'm convinced that humans already possess that kind of discriminating instinct, no matter that we'll never all agree on how to judge any single piece of art, whether it be a novel or a French impressionist painting. And we don't want everyone to agree; if there were a universal standard of literary quality, we'd just write an algorithm for it and turn criticism over to computers. Egad. It would be closer to my position to say that if you want SF to be more culturally viable again, then concerned writers need to stop writing this watered-down stuff and these shoot-em-ups and concentrate on trying to intentionally write culturally viable books again. Then let the public decide. I myself have confidence that the public, given time, will reward better-conceived fiction. Even if the response is not immediate, the worm will turn. Even the most humble blue collar worker will tell you: "I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like." I'm willing to trust him and his confederates, with time, to help turn the market around.

Of course what I'm really talking about here is a campaign of consciousness-raising. I'm not prepared to kick off a drive to purge the words "science fiction" from our lips, but I only wanted to illustrate the fact that sometimes the enemy lies within. I know a lot of SF fans love the history of the genre and love the pulps, and I'm okay with all that, but at the same time we should not pretend it doesn't have an impact on how non-fans perceive us. And obviously we suffer from the ramifications of how non-fans perceive us.

I'm not offering a panacea here. I'm only talking out loud. These are points usually not discussed by the SF community, to its detriment, I think. This is our blind spot. I'm certainly open to entertain any counterarguments or outright rejections of the thesis I've put forward here. Fire away!


message 10: by S.B. (new)

S.B. Santiago | 12 comments We have to reach out to the new generation of readers. We have to use their lingo, and their ideas to help make science fiction relevant in their eyes. When I was writing The Alien Recruitment, I wanted to bridge science fiction to the gamer population. When we were growing up, we had all kinds of great Sci-fi shows to watch. Today many of those shows are gone.

I think part of the problem deals with schools and their curriculum. When I was going to school, I loved Science. I ended up taking a lot of Science classes in college. For the last ten years, schools have been teaching children how to pass a test. They didn't have the chance to teach the exciting part of Science. So, you have a large population that is bored to death with Sci-Fi.

If we want to gain new readers we have to merge with the times. I don't know about other authors, but I just don't see the market for Science Fiction being strong in the US. I do much better in the UK. So, I think science fiction will live on, but not in the US unless our education system improves.


message 11: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments S.b. wrote: " I don't know about other authors, but I just don't see the market for Science Fiction being strong in the US. I."

A very interesting statement. Perhaps it's worse than just science. Education in general has been lacking in the US for some time. I'm not sure if this equates to my point about an audience that is incapable of discriminating good from bad. However, and to challenge Bob a bit on this notion (just an opinion of course), I think readers have had their tastes weakened by an onslaught of homogenized publications which --over time-- has trained the readership to want certain things when they read a book. It's not that people are not intelligent. Readers are very smart and I don't dispute that. But the lack of real choices have let expectations gravitate in one direction. That of course is easier for publishers to handle, but it does not serve readers all that well: whether they're aware of it or not.

Like you Bob, I'm just thinking out loud.


message 12: by W.R.R. (new)

W.R.R. Munro (wrrmunro) | 4 comments This could be foolish self-serving rationalisation but I can't help being a little more optimistic than appears to be the case for the other contributors to this thread.

As far as I can see 'pulp' has existed for nearly as long as the printing press (probably for much, much longer within oral traditions) and for every great literary masterpiece there have always been a hundred mediocre examples of the genre. Think "Pride and Prejudice" v's Mills and Boone's offerings for example. Surely science fiction is no different. Clearly the publishing industry responded to market pressure to reduce prices by minimising editorial resources (i.e. costs) and making safe (copycat) investments more often that brave ones, but really they can't be blamed for trying to survive. And I really don't think they control what readers do. They simply respond to demand (those that don't, cease to exist).

Now, though, the game is afoot. I think Bob is right. Now authors who don't fit publishers' immediate shopping lists can publish their work and the job of separating the wheat from the chaff falls to the reading public through their reviews and by spreading the word on sites such as this one. It becomes a beautifully democratic process, albeit one in which new authors must have the patience of Job (argh).

It even appears that the film and book industries have found the escape pod from the scifi ghetto (though the real thanks should probably go to the late Michael Crichton). Look for your favourite blockbuster scifi movie in the iTunes "Sci-Fi and Fantasy" genre and you probably won't find it. It'll be listed under "Action and Adventure" or "Thriller" instead. Have a look at Amazon's "Techno-thriller" genre and it's virtually all scifi.

I don't think it should be surprising that space travel is a little 'on the nose' given the current underwhelming reality of humanity's space efforts, but look at where science's cutting edge and promise is at the moment - genetics, virtual reality, nano materials etc. It would be truly astonishing if the universe didn't have many more surprises up its sleeve, waiting for us to discover. And where there's scientific advance and uncertainty there's the potential for speculative fiction based on such. There's a great deal left to the imagination. Surely if we write intelligent, fun fiction which plausible speculation of these (more relevant?) scientific endeavours, readers will be interested. Hmm, looks a lot like the contents of Amazon's techno-thriller genre, actually.

So, I wonder if this would be possible. I wonder if it would be possible to create a young (potentially long-lived) protagonist whose stories would start firmly in the close-to-reality, near-future techno-thriller genre and then, as he ages, as time goes by and permits more speculative technologies, whose stories could drift further into the science fiction realm, taking his readership with him.

Hubris of course. But surely that's a prerequisite for speculative fiction?


message 13: by W.R.R. (new)

W.R.R. Munro (wrrmunro) | 4 comments Hmm, sorry about my butchery of the english language. Make that "Surely if we write intelligent, fun fiction based on plausible speculation about these...". (So that's what the preview link is for.)


message 14: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments Sam wrote: "But the days of wading through it with a sense of innocent wonder are over. The world is too harsh. People know too much. It's a blessing and a curse, unfortunately. "

When you say "people know too much", it convinces me to think that SciFi cannot take the role it did during it's formative years. I think I agree with you when I put it quite simply, the minds of readers has changed. Today, they don't need to be told technology will do this or that to our future, they kind of get that point when they fiddle with their spiffy new iPad/android digital device-- whatever.

But with regard to WRR's comment " Surely if we write intelligent, fun fiction which plausible speculation of these (more relevant?) scientific endeavours, readers will be interested. "

I suppose anyone would have to agree with this. Still, let's face facts. SF makes up less than 5% of US book sales. It's been that way for quite some time. The big elephant? Romance with 60%. So I guess that tells us where most book readers want to be entertained. But let me make one thing clear. I'm not saying SF is dead. What I'm saying is that SF's purpose in the market (and people's lives) is murky. There will always be something to write about. I don't doubt that. But as a genre with a clear purpose? Sorry, I think we're a bit lost at sea at the moment, and sitting on a raft full of vampires and werewolves as we paddle like hell.

SF needs a kick in the butt. So let's look at history for an analogy. When Hiroshima got flattened by a nuclear bomb, a lot of people stopped laughing at SF and woke up to the fact that it had something to say. In today's terms I'm uncertain what it would take kickstart things. Aliens show up? Then what? SF stays a genre, or just becomes speculative fiction in a truly SF world. Or maybe we just stop using the term SF altogether. With aliens about, we can explore anything involving new worlds and alien knowledge. We can then write...er...fiction. Once that happens:

Game over :)


message 15: by Leigh (new)

Leigh Lane (leighmlane) | 152 comments Some great points here.

While it is true that SF is much more of a niche genre and therefore can't expect the same sales generated by broader readerships such as romance, I do agree that part of what's going on right now is SF needs to look back on its roots and do some structural overhauling.

Why did some of the greats write what they did? Because they saw their world in turmoil and wanted to do something about it. Their work contained passion and purpose and it showed through in their prose. (RIP Ray Bradbury.)

The good SF of this generation will be comprised of works that say something about our time.


message 16: by W.R.R. (new)

W.R.R. Munro (wrrmunro) | 4 comments If we're looking to the future, lets look at ebooks where the growth is exponential and where, as Bob says, the promise lies . It seems to be difficult to find good data but according to a report (guardian.co.uk/media/2012/feb/05/eboo...) of a US study last year by Weekly and Bowker, scifi does well in ebooks. The article lists literary fiction first at 20%, then "the genre of sci-fi came in at 19% and Christian fiction, God help us, third, at 16%." Clearly there are some issues with these figures. Where does romance's elephantine shadow fall, for example. (This may be partially explained by male dominance in ereaders in contrast to female dominance in paperbacks.) Even if we look at less unexpected figures though (from derekjcanyon.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/... which only looks at "the 1,000+ Sales/Month Club") we see Romance 16%, Paranormal 15%, Thriller 12%, Mystery 12%, Fantasy 8% and Science Fiction 7%. These look closer to Saul's figure of 5% but given a significant portion of Thrillers are techno-thrillers (i.e. really scifi in disguise) and some Fantasy and arguably even Paranormal books are probably borderline soft scifi (and certainly there's reader overlap), the gap to the first set of stats is probably not so wide.

So I don't think the facts are impenetrably dark. Yes, we're seeing a werewolf/vampire fashion at the moment but it's unlikely to last as a major force, surely?

What I really can't agree with though is the notion that "Today, they don't need to be told technology will do this or that to our future, they kind of get that point when they fiddle with their spiffy new iPad/android digital device." I can well imagine, a generation ago, a group of authors lamenting that the younger generation wouldn't need to be told what technology would do in the future because they already had self-powered transport, machines that cooked and cleaned and even flying machines. What happened though was that the generation was excited to read about where those developments might go - so the thrust of scifi was space travel (and who we might meet out there) and robots.

If public excitement needs a tweak, I suspect it will come from somewhere closer to home than alpha centauri. It'll come from DNA labs or bio-chip developers or …

The crux? SF's purpose? Surely it was never about space, or robots, or even (with the greatest respect to SF's mother, Mary) creating our own monsters. Surely it's always been about playing with ideas and concepts inspired by contemporary scientific speculation.

Surely as yesterday's SF becomes today's reality, todays SF simply has to shift to tomorrow's possibilities? So I'm with you, Leigh: "The good SF of this generation will be comprised of works that say something about our time."


message 17: by Bob (new)

Bob R Bogle (bobrbogle) Here's everything, really, there is to know about meaning of science, which in turn reveals everything there is to know about the future of SF. Be encouraged.

http://youtu.be/9Cd36WJ79z4


message 18: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Moorer (sherrithewriter) | 143 comments It seems to me that it's become mixed with what many would consider "urban fantasy" (as in, alternate realities of the world we know here and now). And there's nothing wrong with that, but I do miss the "in a galaxy far away" stories that show us new worlds and new species.


message 19: by Alex (new)

Alex Black Has science fiction lost it's mojo? I'm going with yes, especially for written science fiction. It's relinquished its dominance of the speculative fiction corner of most physical booksellers to fantasy novels. Much of what's left goes to franchise tie-in novels and classics in the genre. That leaves a drastically decreased self-space for new, original works when compared to twenty years ago.

It also reflects in decreased royalties for authors and flat sales figures overall during a period in which the population has grown.

It hasn't been much better in the franchise world outside of literary science fiction. The second Star Wars trilogy underwhelmed, the Matrix tanked with its second installment, and Serenity, while brilliant, under performed at the box office. Firefly and Futurama were canceled, Star Trek Voyager disappointed many of its fans with its finale, while Lost, Battle Star Galactica, and Mass Effect 3 all had their 'controversial' endings. So far this year we've had Prometheus. There have been some gems over the past twenty years, but overall a more lumps of coal than diamonds, unfortunately.


message 20: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments Alex wrote: "Has science fiction lost it's mojo? I'm going with yes, especially for written science fiction."

Thanks for your post Alex. I of course tend to agree but a few things worth mentioning. Physical shelf space is indeed very limited to SF due to franchise dedicated books. But what about eBooks? Does that logic apply?

And even though we can lament the canceling of so many great SciFi TV shows, it can be said with certainty that much more money has been earned with Scifi (SF in media like TV and Movies) rather than SF (published science fiction books). So what gives? Why would you think SciFi does better financially, even though under great pressure to make it against all the non SciFi stuff out there? Are we truly a visual species? Or are we just going through some phase that will work its way out once all media can be compete head on?

Everyone feel free to jump in.


message 21: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Adair | 27 comments Okay, Saul, I'll jump in. :-) IMHO, SF used to hinge on wow-gee-wiz technology and visions of cool aliens. Its comment on humanity almost seemed to come secondary.

I don't think we're as impressed with technology now as we were pre-Challenger. We're definitely not as impressed with scientists such as doctors.

I've seen similar hiccups in crime fiction. Fifty years ago, writers of crime fiction weren't leading with hot "issues," such as child soldiers, drug addiction, and poverty. If SF is going to survive as a genre, it must transition to where it's putting the comment about humanity before the aliens and the technology.


message 22: by Bob (new)

Bob R Bogle (bobrbogle) The proles like to see cool technology in action so long as they don't have to consciously reflect on (i.e., read about) how it works?


message 23: by Alex (new)

Alex Black Saul wrote: Physical shelf space is indeed very limited to SF due to franchise dedicated books. But what about eBooks? Does that logic apply?

Ebooks have their own unique problems. The most irksome when it comes to science fiction so far has been separating the chaff from the grain. For every promising new work online there are dozens of poorly written, poorly proofed ebooks written by aspiring writers without much time invested in either developing the craft of storytelling or in editing. Ebook sales venues for SF suffer from clutter rather than a lack of shelf space.

Thus far ebooks don't seem to have slowed the genre's sales slides, let alone start recapturing lost ground. That said, it is difficult to come by reliable data. It also depends on whether you consider YA like the Hunger Games to fall under science fiction.


message 24: by Ian (new)

Ian McClellan | 50 comments This is a great thread. I'm not a big sci-fi guy, but these points apply to a lot of different genres. Seems to me that you really need to be a phenomenal writer (not really an option for some of us) or do something to really stand out and set yourself apart in your genre.


message 25: by Bob (new)

Bob R Bogle (bobrbogle) Yes, Ian! Yes! It's well over-due.


message 26: by David (new)

David Richards (dgr2) | 36 comments I think we all do actually try to do our best. But even the best is not good enough if you are, like me, crap at marketing. The problems about shelf space in stores is exactly the same as marketing for ebooks. It's about getting the word out as much as it is about writing a good book.

I lament going into WHSmiths and looking for the Science Fiction & Fantasy shelves only to be faced by a wall of Paranormal Fantasy YA Urban Romance covers. I have often read Elizabeth Moon's Military SF books, but the only books of hers on the shelf are her Fantasy ones. Now that is sad as she writes far more SF than Fantasy, but those books are invisible. A good example is Remnant Population which isn't even one of her Military SF books, but is a really good First Contact book. But if you were not looking for it, you wouldn't find it.


message 27: by Marc (new)

Marc Nash (sulci) | 752 comments a strange proposition considering scientists are redefining our concepts of space, time, matter and mind all the while. Each new theory opens up a whole new world of metaphor for us writers. Scifi may have to realign itself a tad, being less about future projections & world-building and more about engaging with the alternate realities of our own world as these theories offer them up.

I've written an as yet unpublished novel about the human genome and am currently working on one which involves Chaos theory. Both have contemporary settings. Science? Yes. Fiction? Undoubtedly. Science-fiction? I'm not sure...


message 28: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments Bob wrote: "Yes, Ian! Yes! It's well over-due."

You know....I'd have to say that like it or not, Stephen King is probably one of the biggest name in Fiction. Genre fiction. One can even argue that a lot of his books are in fact: Science Fiction.

Sadly, the above seems to do little (if nothing) to raise SF out of the ghetto.

Suzanne wrote: "I don't think we're as impressed with technology now as we were pre-Challenger. We're definitely not as impressed with scientists such as doctors."

I agree. It seems to be one huge problem with SF. It's DNA chain back to the infusion of science is either broken, or lost so much steam that it's basically the same thing. Lame.

Historically speaking, SF was greatly enhanced by a few major historic accomplishments. Invention of nuclear energy, and space exploration. It made SF not just some flight of fancy, but a form of prophetic literature. What can shake things up so much that the same thing happens today? Aliens arrive, or we invent the warp drive and and start visiting far off planets.

Otherwise, we're back to square one. Talking about flights of fancy.


message 29: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Adair | 27 comments Historically speaking, SF was greatly enhanced by a few major historic accomplishments. Invention of nuclear energy, and space exploration. It made SF not just some flight of fancy, but a form of prophetic literature. What can shake things up so much that the same thing happens today? Aliens arrive, or we invent the warp drive and and start visiting far off planets.

You're talking about the external journey, Saul. I think SF needs to transform such that it speaks to the internal journey. Plenty of aliens on that journey. :-)


message 30: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments Suzanne wrote: "You're talking about the external journey, Saul. I think SF needs to transform such that it speaks to the internal journey. Plenty of aliens on that journey. :-) "

You mean like the New Wave movement, which looked a great deal at social issues? For example: Bug Jack Barron by Spinrad.


message 31: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Adair | 27 comments You mean like the New Wave movement, which looked a great deal at social issues? For example: Bug Jack Barron by Spinrad.

Saul, I haven't read that book, so I tried to get an idea of what it's about from what's posted on the sites of online retailers. It appears to be a sharp satire. If that's an accurate assessment, it probably isn't what I'm talking about.

Traditionally, SF readers and authors have loved their gadgets and aliens. In a similar way, traditional crime fiction was a stroll through the English parlor or a dash down mean streets. In both genres, the protagonist was distant, almost an onlooker.

Technobabble invaded both genres, starting ~ 1970s: quantum ____ (fill in the blank) and crime lab forensics. This had the effect of distancing the protagonist even further.

What's happened in crime fiction that I don't see happening yet in SF is that authors have allowed the technobabble to take a back seat and focused on the inner hells of the protagonist -- and how those impact the protagonist's ability to succeed. This focus results in more relatable protagonists. Readers will follow a relatable protagonist almost anywhere, even overlook a number of book faults.


message 32: by Darlene (new)

Darlene Jones (darlene_jones) | 152 comments Read "Wool Omnibus" by Hugh Howey - I think it will prove that science fiction is here to stay.


message 33: by RM (new)

RM Pala | 16 comments This is a great discussion...
There is nothing in the technological advances of the last forty years to make science fiction moot. Rockets and robots, lasers and aliens, all the trappings that inhabit the worlds and universes of the writers' imaginations support the real purpose of science fiction: to think about what it is to be human. Frankenstein is about the hubris of a man who assumes the role of life creator. George Orwell's books warn about the affect of communism on the common man. Star Wars is about a young man who becomes what he was destined to be as he seeks the truth.

Arthur C. Clark wrote a story in 1955 called The Star. Most of you know it's about a Jesuit priest who is the astro-physicist on an expedition to another solar system. His faith is sorely tested by what they find. There's plenty of technology, but that isn't what makes the story a classic. It's the human agony that results when new knowledge calls into question a lifetime of faith.

Big ideas, unquenchable curiosity, bold action and all too human characters are the elements. The themes can be found in the gaps between humans and machines, humans and the universe, humans and the divine. There are still a lot of stories to be told


message 34: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments RM wrote: "Frankenstein...George Orwell's books...Arthur C. Clark wrote a story in 1955 called The Star. ..."

I'm not trying to argue here, but let's keep in mind what my issue was. I'm not asking if SF has no Mojo. I'm asking if SF has LOST its Mojo.

I do agree that the works you comment on did have important relevance, especially at the time they were written. However, most of that stuff came out at a time when society didn't have a firm grip on what science was capable of doing. People still laughed about going to the moon...until it happened.

I'm talking about the Now.

And Star Wars? That's an interesting one to bring up. In some sense Star Wars can be seen as one major cause of SF's problem. Many people have said it's not much of a SF story, in many respects just a fantasy draped in the tropes. Sith Lords instead of wizards, Death Stars instead of dragons. At the time it was released, Ben Bova was very critical of this and I quote here the gist of his criticism:

Bova's immediate response was that Star Wars's 'only relation to science fiction is to degrade our genre in the eyes of the public'. He saved his more detailed comments for an editorial in Analog in June 1978, by which time he had also seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Setting aside all the marvels of the special effects, which he likened to seeing our first decorated Christmas tree, Bova argued that the stories tried to please the public by delivering a diet of wish-fulfilment summed up by the phrase 'Trust the Force'. In neither case was there an adequate scientific premise to the actions and, more importantly, to the climax or solution. Bova's conclusion caused quite a stir in his use of words: 'neither film can be regarded seriously as science fiction. In fact, they bear the same relationship to science fiction as the Nazi treatment of Poland bore to the Ten Commandments.'64 (Ashley 360)

So isn't it ironic in a sense? You see Star Wars making SF relevant in some way, whereas others (and I agree with the dark side here :) feel Star Wars helped kill off SF's Mojo. Who is right? I'm not sure but I think the discussion is quite interesting.

Don't shoot me now. I'm just sayin...


message 35: by Horace (new)

Horace Ponii (horacetponii) Saul, what is popular isn't always (ever? never?) what's best in a genre. I like David Weber's Honor Harrington series. It's a fun space opera with some good parallels both to historical & current politics, but it's not what I'd call top notch SF any more than the popular SF of any other decade such as the old Lensman series.

There is some good stuff now, though. Spin is quite good, both at using modern science & the human element. Even a YA novel like The Annihilation of Foreverland does both at least as much as most of the older books like those by John Christopher. Joe Haldeman & John Scalzi are both putting out good SF novels regularly, too.

Short stories are still doing well, too. I've read quite a few of those up for Nebula awards & believe they have as much to offer as many of the old SF writers ever did, not that I'll ever look on them the same way. I can't, but that's my failing, not the authors'. I grew up reading Heinlein, Asimov, & Clark in the 60's & their work was capped by man landing on the moon, then the computer revolution. I lived through many of the dreams they were scoffed at for becoming reality. That puts any of their predecessors at a serious disadvantage in my mind.

Taking that thought a bit further, could that be why you think SF has lost its mojo? Technology has come so far in your life that reality is almost like a quick trip to the future? Scientific wonders appear so regularly that your sense of wonder at them has been dulled?

I often feel like that myself. Everything has changed so much, so fast. It's not just going from one phone in the house on a party line to carrying a pocket computer/video phone like the Jetson's & Dick Tracy laughably (then anyway) used, but all the many little things. Just last night I was thinking about the bewildering assortment of glues & epoxies that will hold together most anything. I grew up with just a few & now have a few dozen. I think SF writers have a tougher time just overcoming the wonder of today.


message 36: by Bob (new)

Bob R Bogle (bobrbogle) What makes a good story? Or what makes a story work? The questions, and the answers, go back to Aristotle, and they haven't ever changed much. We have three acts. We have plots and characters. Conflict. Cause and effect. Foreshadowing. Transition. Setting. Symbols. Flashback. Timing. Crisis, climax, dénouement.

How do we make it real? Dialog, external and internal. Show, don't tell. Include the right mix of detail, general and specific, but don't overcook it. Inhale Strunk and White's The Elements of Style and Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces and exhale in ink or electrons. Spend more effort on rewriting than on writing.

The concerns of the genre called science fiction tend not to be the concerns of the storyteller. In this discussion people are talking about technology, about the future, about Renaissance ways of thinking, the philosophy of science, about whether escapist Star Wars is science fiction or fantasy or literature. And the eternal struggle of the artist: in order to expand one's admirers/market, one generally must address the hopes and desires and expectations of the public rather than those of the artist. Did Star Wars aim for the least common denominator? Did it arrive there? Did it drag anyone else up or down to its level?

Hey, I loved the first Star Wars movie, and while I appreciate Bova's concerns, I think his conclusions were hogwash.

Some people in this discussion have been bemoaning what's become an unpopular genre, as if they want to return to the past, which is a little ironic because science fiction has always been much more concerned with what's to come than with what's already been. It's fine to be very fond of the past, but we can never return to it. It may be that the slew of action-adventure movies from the last decade in their own way represent what is "wrong with science fiction": Hollywood hanging onto outdated models, trying to force them to work, neglecting the inclusion of the vital elements of storytelling. Genres are just a collection of certain tropes that are tacked onto the elements of good writing. These tropes hardly have the status of religious iconography. Maybe it's time to jettison some of them and to move on.

I say if you want to write about the future, or technology, or robots, or space travel, or utopian/dystopian visions, before you begin you should concern yourself with learning how to tell a story. Look closely at how other writers you've loved have done it, but never try to write like anyone other than yourself. And try very hard to learn how to tell a story regardless of genre. We may or may not decide what you've written is "science fiction," but that's irrelevant: that kind of dissection is the job of future English majors. Just write the best stories you can and don't think about genres – YA, SF, vampires, etc. – at all.


message 37: by Marina (new)

Marina Fontaine (marina_fontaine) | 70 comments I think people nowadays are too hung up on genres: sci-fi vs. fantasy vs. cyberpunk, etc. As far as I'm concerned, if you look at the large umbrella of speculative/futuristic fiction, there's some truly amazing stuff happening. John C. Wright is possibly one of the best writers of our generation. Dan Simmons Hyperion/Endymion saga is mind-blowing. There are TONS of dystopia novels, mostly of YA classification, that portray various societies using science for anything from genetic enhancements to population control. I think the main difference is that instead of saying "this will be the specific technology of 50 years in the future" authors are more concerned with writing the future of humanity as a whole, where we would end up as societies, how we would advance, how we could potentially go wrong. To me those are the more interesting and relevant questions anyway.


message 38: by Darlene (new)

Darlene Jones (darlene_jones) | 152 comments Masha, don't forget Robert J. Sawyer, and right now I'm reading Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howry - amazing.


message 39: by Marc (new)

Marc Nash (sulci) | 752 comments Bob wrote: "What makes a good story? Or what makes a story work? The questions, and the answers, go back to Aristotle, and they haven't ever changed much. We have three acts. We have plots and characters. ..."

I'm afraid I disagree with every single one of your arguments. Most novels are fundamentally about telling stories and often in the way you outline above. But they are not exclusively so. I find the beginning, middle, end formula rather arid, since human life does not proceed along such tracks, we're too busy living our lives daily, although many try and impose a pattern on their lives to try and make it coherent.

You can't live back in the past? The vast majority of novels are set in a past setting and represent characters moving through such times. Even contemporary settings become the past given time moving on.

SciFi has one huge advantage over other genres, although whether it's exploited by its writers much I hesitate to say; SciFi is not limited to the scale of the human. It can plunge into the micro-biological scale, or soar to the planetary/galaxy scale. This can make for vertiginous writing and language.

Time, as Einstein showed, is not regular and fixed. SciFi writers could be subverting our notions of time in their books and by this I don't mean just indulging in a bit of time travel. I mean seriously questioning what we humans understand by the notion of time, of past, present & future.

But for me, and I don't write a huge amount of SciFi, it always comes back to language rather than story. How much conciousness & language do you programme a cyborg with. Why does First Contact have to have both species able to communicate with one another? What happens if the physical bodies of both species are so utterly different from one another that the referents of our language, of 'up'/down', 'right/left' have no possible comprehension to a creature of different dimensionality?


message 40: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 34 comments Bob wrote: "What makes a good story? Or what makes a story work? The questions, and the answers, go back to Aristotle, and they haven't ever changed much. We have three acts. We have plots and characters. ..."

As much as I agree with almost all the points you've made, I'm not entirely certain if they pertain to the question I've raise. We can of course argue that SF is just an allusion, and nothing more than a thin film which is easily pierced and made irrelevant by all the characteristics of good writing. Perhaps SF is nothing more than that, but the premise of my question assumes that SF has greater intrinsic meaning. It evolved over time as a genre for a purpose. Not just to entertain and tell good stories: any book can do that. No. SF exists to raise questions regarding technology, science, and yet unexplored mysteries of the cosmos.

But where has its Mojo gone?

Let me address the comments made by Horace, who touched upon what I feel is an important point. SF suffers from the fact that today's world inundates us with technological wonders both real and speculative. Under these conditions, I too feel that SF has become trivialized. And to make itself stand out, a large number of tools and tricks are now employed regularly.

What tools? Glitzy movies with eye-popping special effects seems to be the primary way of making SF available to the masses. And profitable, as proven by Star Wars which started the trend.

But that's media based entertainment, outside the sphere of the written form. In books SF employs other methods. For instance, it sometimes attempts to extrude prophetic meaning from some complex scientific phenomenon with sociological ramifications. In other cases SF goes down a path which shuns science/technology altogether and focuses instead on soul-searching stories which bring tears to your eyes. Both flounder in my opinion. Why? Because neither seems to grab the hearts and minds of a mass audience. SF's dismal 5% market share speaks for itself-- and let's not squabble over a few points +or- shall we?

You want more proof? Pick a wide audience of readers and ask them if they know who Isaac Asimov was. Then try that same test with any popular writer of pure SF (exclude Stephen King. Sorry, but most don't categorize him as an SF author to start with). I think you'll find the numbers for modern writers to be rather low in comparison.

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now....


message 41: by Marc (new)

Marc Nash (sulci) | 752 comments SciFi like any other genre of fiction looks at man and the human condition. it merely projects ahead to imagined future times and worldscapes in order to reflect back on us in the here and now, usually about our current anxieties.


message 42: by Steph (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 182 comments This is an interesting argument! I am inclined to think that science-fiction is in danger of losing its 'reason to be', as most of the big issues around science and civilisation have already been done to death. I say this as a sci-fi writer; I believe science-fiction has a role in inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and the like, but it's been a while since I've come across any contemporary science-fiction that has the potential to do just that - the only thing that comes to mind as I write this is Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. As for future times and worldscapes, I am surprised there hasn't been a slew of stories about climate change, but perhaps this is a tale few want to read. If anyone can recommend a good climate-change novel, recently published, let me know!


message 43: by Marina (new)

Marina Fontaine (marina_fontaine) | 70 comments Marc wrote: "SciFi like any other genre of fiction looks at man and the human condition. it merely projects ahead to imagined future times and worldscapes in order to reflect back on us in the here and now, us..."

This!


message 44: by Bob (new)

Bob R Bogle (bobrbogle) I find my mind swirling with a kind of schizophrenic yes-and-but-yesedness or maybe in a sort of Heisenbergian fuzz because I simultaneously and almost equally believe in and disbelieve in what I wrote and what Marc wrote with respect to the theoretical aspects pertinent to the writing of science fiction. I'm reminded of the Scylla and Charybdis episode of Ulysses in which, after Stephen Dedalus relates his rather long, somewhat confused, emotionally hyper-pregnant theory of the psychological relationship between Shakespeare and Hamlet, which really has more to do with Stephen's own perplexed and perplexing psychological state, he is asked whether he believes his own thesis, and his answer is: "No." But then, as Saul will attest, everything reminds me of Ulysses in some way.

I think Saul's most recent comments about the Lilliputian market share of science fiction at the present time is particularly apt and a fit starting point for consideration. The penetration of the shared Gestalt by omnipresent technogizmos is being offered as an important factor influencing the whittling away of public interest in the genre. While I find this to be (somewhat) more believable than the Star Wars is our scapegoat that will restore paradise hypothesis, I'm not really buying it, either: we are neither at the end of physics nor at the end of technology: there are always more unexplored frontiers awaiting us in science fiction. Always.

I seemed to be advocating, in my last post, that science fiction authors ought to embrace a more formulaic and classical approach to writing, and while I think the suggestion has much merit, I also do agree with Marc that along that path lies danger, sterility and death. And yet the facts Saul cites speak for themselves. Saul asked how many names of science fiction authors Joe Blow knows. Not many. Masha and Darlene listed works by John C Wright and Dan Simmons and Robert J Sawyer and Hugh Howry. The question is not the merits of their works: the question is why would more than 95% of the reading public ask: "Who are John C Wright, Dan Simmons, Robert J Sawyer, and Hugh Howry?" Even the name of the biggest blockbuster of science fiction novels in terms of advances and sales, Frank Herbert, remains mostly unknown to the public.

I think it's very, very good for a writer to spend a lot of time thinking about what makes for a well-crafted story. I think it's also a very good idea for science fiction writers to read classics outside of their own genre, and I'll tell you why. Very many years ago I was reading Don Quixote and I told a good friend of mine that I was pretty surprised and impressed by how good much of it was (although you eventually reach a point in that book in which it takes a nosedive). He answered me: "Well, there's a reason they're called classics."

That very simple observation has always stayed with me. You see, classics don't begin as snooty, dusty books for professors: classics begin by winning over the unwashed masses, and you who are pre-prejudiced against classics don't know what you're missing. Who are the best writers I, a long-time science fiction fan, ever read? James Joyce, F Scott Fitzgerald, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, a handful of others. Not one science fiction writer makes that list (although Roger Zelazny comes pretty close). I admire how they write, regardless of how I do or do not like the specific stories they're telling. What I want to see is a science fiction novel that wins public respect in the same way that Moby-Dick does, or The Old Man and the Sea, or The Sun Also Rises. I want to see science fiction emerge as respectable.

Now I said a science fiction writer should have as much knowledge as possible about how classical stories are told, but as Marc says, as soon as a good writer, in any genre, begins actually setting words down the theory tends to instantly evaporate. Writers can understand this in a way that readers can't. If you want your characters to be alive, you must let them emerge organically and do what they want to do, not what you-the-author thinks they ought to do. All I'm really saying, Marc, is that retrospectively books that earn classic status tend to contain certain classical elements. I don't think that's really debatable. But you're right: if you try consciously to write in a formulaic way like that, Bad Things can happen.

Part of the problem surely has to do with which audience we're trying to please. I think Saul inadvertently identified the Achilles tendon of science fiction when he said: ". . .the premise of my question assumes that SF has greater intrinsic meaning. It evolved over time as a genre for a purpose. Not just to entertain and tell good stories: any book can do that. No. SF exists to raise questions regarding technology, science, and yet unexplored mysteries of the cosmos."

This strikes me as being dreamy, if not perpetuating a dangerous and self-defeating myth for science fiction writers. The belief that science fiction has greater intrinsic meaning than mainstream fiction is, in my opinion, just a bias, and one that clearly most human beings would rephrase using the word "less" in place of "more." Not, I think, that most science fiction writers and readers would disagree with Saul, but then most of the zombie and vampire crowd would make the same assertion about their own cliquish extended reading families. Likewise I reject the assertion that science fiction evolved with a purpose. It just evolved, as everything evolved, without purpose, responding to changing times, and now it seems to have accidentally painted itself into a marketing corner: clearly no purpose was intended. I don't think science fiction exists now, or ever did, with a glorious dream of raising questions about technology, science, and the cosmos, etc. Science fiction existed, and exists, because geeky kids learn how to string words together and then write about what interests them: nothing wrong with that!

But should we really care that today's public doesn't get science fiction? Should we worry about trying to capture the minds of those with a fifteen second attention span, or should we write for a more sophisticated audience of the future? Or should we write for a much smaller, more savvy and sophisticated audience, aiming for the wheat among the chaff? Or should we write only to please ourselves, working on the theory that if it really pleases me, then it will appeal to the kind of audience that matters to me?

Okay now . . . I really have to get some work done . . .


message 45: by RM (new)

RM Pala | 16 comments "responding to changing times.."

Yes, Bob, you make exactly the right core argument. Looking back, I'd say Stranger is a Strange Land, Slaughter House Five, The Time Machine, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Brave New World are classics...I studied them in high school. People who normally avoided science fiction were drawn to 2001, A Space Odyssey (Arthur C Clarke)maybe because the film that was hyped like crazy and came out before the novel. Am I wrong?


message 46: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 62 comments Marc wrote:"SciFi has one huge advantage over other genres, although whether it's exploited by its writers much I hesitate to say; SciFi is not limited to the scale of the human. It can plunge into the micro-biological scale, or soar to the planetary/galaxy scale. This can make for vertiginous writing and language.

Time, as Einstein showed, is not regular and fixed. SciFi writers could be subverting our notions of time in their books and by this I don't mean just indulging in a bit of time travel. I mean seriously questioning what we humans understand by the notion of time, of past, present & future.

But for me, and I don't write a huge amount of SciFi, it always comes back to language rather than story. How much conciousness & language do you programme a cyborg with. Why does First Contact have to have both species able to communicate with one another? What happens if the physical bodies of both species are so utterly different from one another that the referents of our language, of 'up'/down', 'right/left' have no possible comprehension to a creature of different dimensionality?
..."


Have you read Einstein's Dreams and/orDragon's Egg / Starquake?


message 47: by Marc (new)

Marc Nash (sulci) | 752 comments I've read "Einstein's Dreams". Anything with the word 'dragon' in the title I avoid like the plague...


message 48: by Marc (new)

Marc Nash (sulci) | 752 comments I don't think any of you live in London, but if you do I'm doing a reading next Sunday 29th July of my SciFi short story "Carbon Speed Dating" about First Contact. details are on the events section of my GR profile. Event is free.


message 49: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 62 comments Marc wrote: "I've read "Einstein's Dreams". Anything with the word 'dragon' in the title I avoid like the plague..."

You may have no idea how sad I am to hear that you avoid books with "Dragon" in the title, but in this case, the "Dragon's Egg" is not a reference to a fantasy dragon, but a neutron star. There are no dragons in the book. It is straight SF that deals with issues of the limitations of human perception of spatial and temporal scale, and it is well worth reading, even (or especially) for readers who would avoid dragon books like the plague.


message 50: by Marc (new)

Marc Nash (sulci) | 752 comments phew, thank goodness. Sounds interesting, I'll add it to my list.

Sorry about the dragons, but I just don't read fantasy.

Thanks for the recommendation


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