Future Tense

My new column on the Internet Review of Science Fiction‘s website has already generated a few e-mails to me–and that was before I announced it.  This one is on sf & the future.  Check it out here.

One response to “Future Tense”

  1. Kris, one thing you and Dean talked about — back in June — was how much the SF genre was self-limiting because too many of the ‘established’ authors and editors were stuck on the idea that new authors ought to be discouraged — prevented? — from going back and playing on the “old equipment” at the SF Playground.

    I’ve noticed in a few recent SF anthologies that the language and concepts in the stories are so dense, so technical, so obviously striving to be on the bleeding edge of theory, that the stories themselves are inaccessible to anyone who isn’t already a long-time SF reader who has ‘seen it all before.’

    What this makes me think about, mostly, is: who are we really writing for? A few years ago I’d have said I was writing to make the ‘established’ people happy, because they’re the ones I wanted approval from.

    Now, I don’t think so. I’m looking at the tweens and the teens and the young adults — the future — and I am thinking I’d rather try and snare their attention, as an author, regardless of what the ‘established’ SF crowd demands.

    I am reminded of an expose I once heard, about how Harley-Davidson saved itself from commercial oblivion. They were interviewing one of the key decision-makers about that, how many older biker types were saying that Harley-Davidson had “sold out” because now Harley-Davidson was marketing the macho mystique of the bike — even the designs of the bikes themselves — to the weekend faux bikers from the suburbs, younger office types who wear suits on the weekdays and leather on the weekends, etc.

    The Harley-Davidson guy’s rejoinder smacked me as brilliant. He said, “There are only so many big fat old guys with beards.”

    Ergo, Harley-Davidson could either keep marketing to the shrinking, old crowd of ‘outlaw’ bikers — who never had a lot of money to begin with — or it could go mainstream, and stay in business, even making a much larger profit.

    Sorta seems like SF is at that point. Keep writing to appease the old crowd which has seen it all, or go for the ‘mainstream’ where the youth and the money are. The future too, I’d wager.

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