Tuesday, September 6, 2011


In this brave new world of indie publishing, obviously there will be many more stories published then there were under the old system. They will be written by writers in various stages of development and with wildly varying degrees of flair. We all know it's inevitable.

Readers and critics may be more understanding then we think. We've at least got enthusiasm and passion going for us, and people may pick up on that. Hey, slush could become fashionable. It might even become an area of study.

Stranger things have happened. If things do turn out that way, remember—you learned about it here first.

I can think of at least one precedent for my prediction—The Eye of Argon

But I digress.

In my home genre of science fiction, there have been many tides of fashion over the years. I'm betting we'll soon be revisiting a lot of them.

For example, once there was something called New Wave. In its heyday (the mid-to-late-1960s and the early 1970s) it indeed seemed novel and exciting. I won't attempt to define it, exactly, but there was a certain psychedelic stream-of consciousness aesthetic to a lot of it, and literary pretensions absolutely abounded—but they were good-hearted pretensions, all in all, and a lot of good stuff got published. Some writers were pigeonholed as New Wave whether they embraced the movement or not (which was probably good for them commercially), but others felt left out who needn't have doubted their own coolness. It was a heady time.

There are probably at least a few writers who still wish to mine that particular vein of ore. And now they can all be published.

Then there was that whole "Del Rey Books fantasy gravy train" back in the 1980s. That was when Tolkien-style fantasy became viable as a separate genre in its own right (to the point where the Science Fiction Writers of America changed their name to the Science fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, thus cleverly keeping their acronym), due mainly to the vision of one Judy-Lynn Del Rey, who was surely as influential an editor in her own time as John W. Campbell was in his.

Even now a boatload of fantasy writers are doubtless waiting in the wings—including some younger ones inspired by Tolkien's timeless tale who missed that early-80s tsunami of stuff the first time around—and they're all hoping we'll love them. Some of them could even attain their desire.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Cyberpunk at this point, but I'm durned if I have a lot to say about it. On the whole, I think it took itself too seriously, but I have to acknowledge the sheer brilliance of William Gibson, and the Cyberpunk aesthetic has certainly been an influential one, even on me—George's databand in Saviors of the Galaxy owes something to Cyberpunk, I think (although I first encountered the concept of 'jacking in' in Samuel R, Delany's Nova, way back in the New Wave era). But I have to admit I resisted reading Cyberpunk solely for the sake of its supposed importance. Which probably means that I missed out on some good stuff.

Might there yet be a few Cyberpunk authors out there hoping to wow us all with their visions?  What do you think?

I'll give one final example of an SF trend (though I could probably think of others): Starting in the early 1960s there was a vogue for something you might call Science Fantasy. Examples would include Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series, Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight series, Ursula K. LeGuin's first novel Rocannon's World, many of Andre Norton's novels including the Witch World series, Leigh Brackett's Ginger Star trilogy, and Frank Herbert's Dune series.

There. I've finally gotten around to what I actually wanted to talk about. I don't know how fashionable Science Fantasy might be at the moment, but it's the sort of thing I want to write. And I'll have more to say on the topic in my next installment.

Thanks for dropping by.

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