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specfiction

203 Posts

Posted - 09/20/2006 :  09:16:16  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Does the Publishing Industry drive a certain kind of SF? George Lucas was asked whether he thought Star Wars was science fiction. He answered, "No," he thought of it as Space Fantasy. Has the publishing industry latched on to the success of things like Star Wars and filtered what they're willing to accept as SF, thereby changing, over the years, what the public sees as SF. What do you think?

I've heard and read many agents bemoaning the consolidation in the publishing industry as setting the stage for McBook. Before the 90's there were many medium and small publishers that had market reach and a variety of opinion as to what constitutes a good book. Now with mega-publishers flush with marketeers, has that changed?

specfiction

203 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2007 :  08:59:57  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
In response to a reader, who has been in the publishing industry, and thinks that at some point writers will no longer need a corporate publisher:

I agree with you, but digging out of the hole that big publishers have dug is going to be difficult. Over the years they have conditioned the audience out there to expect certain things. Having been in business myself, this is what marketers strive for. How can one reliably forecast ROI, simple--normalize the population you sell to. With the arsenal of TV, video games, and "the like," they have been very successful.

A word about the internet. The internet, as you point out, is the next marketing frontier. I like what has happened in music--new artists have been able to short-circuit the record labels and actually make money. My experience in the book business on line has been harder. As an example, look at anyone who has put word of a new (self-published) book on some forums. Immediately, the usual suspects show up, not having read a word of the book, and start slamming. Many forums think it's okay to talk up a book by a big publisher, but if someone comes and mentions their own book--instant bad vibes. I think in time the net "might" fulfill it's promise as a tableaux of original work, and peoplesí acceptance to "take an honest look," but marketers will fight you every step of the way because you're essentially cutting them out.


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Specfiction
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specfiction

203 Posts

Posted - 01/15/2007 :  16:26:25  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Even if we are not publishing a particular book here at SFR, we don't mind promoting new authors. We're not only going to talk the talk, we're going to walk the walk. We have a section on the Forum, "Pete's Picks->Book Discussions" where we are presenting selected short stories, and first chapters along with a link where readers who enjoy an author can purchase the book. We want talented new authors to "hang around" SFR, and interested readers to speak up.

We hope that readers will comment on books and stories. New authors can send in short stories for consideration (no more than 5000 words).

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Specfiction
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tamarawilhite

USA
12 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2007 :  15:41:15  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit tamarawilhite's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I wonder if the world has moved so far into the future of the sci-fi that we were raised on that we collectively imagining much further. Where are the flying cars? Why wasn't there a nuclear war? We didn't get the Jetsons or Mad Max, so we feel bored by the medium day to day life we live. Many of the greatest advances, such as the Internet and medical advances, were either not foreseen or not thought to have much impact.

It takes far more imagination to take what we have and foresee a reasonable future. That is why modern sci-fi has fled to alternate reality or stories based thousands of years in the future - too many people can't see where we might be within our own lifetimes anymore. And publishers don't see a future in writing about that same murky future, so they don't publish what little sci-fi is coming out.

Tamara Wilhite/Humanity's Edge
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specfiction

203 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2007 :  12:31:54  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
My own take is that the SF genre, the one that some of us old-timers recognize as SF, has been hijacked. Some might argue that SF (in books) just doesn't sell that well and that's why it has diminished. If that's the case, how do they explain Michael Crichton, Carl Sagan, Greg Bear, and others? All I can say is to repeat what people tell me when I ask them why they don't read SF anymore. They tell me, in general, it's not interesting or relevent to what they care about. And those books that are, are hard to read. Some of them tell me that what is sold as SF is really fantasy and they don't like fantasy. I spoke to one book store owner. She told me that she thought it would be better if SF were sprinkled in various sections to make it more accessable to people who might like it. She gave me examples like some SF could go with mystery and suspense, some with thrillers, some with historical fiction, etc. Her point was that it had more in common with these genres than with fantasy in many cases and would be more attractive to people looking for those particular types of books.

It's a chicken and egg problem. It may be that by consolidation, shaping the genre, and tying it to fantasy, publishers have alienated their readers. That may be why authors like Crichton don't want to be tied to SF, and sell very well without the association.

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Specfiction
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The Jarillion

United Kingdom
18 Posts

Posted - 06/16/2007 :  18:22:53  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit The Jarillion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I feel a particular problem stems from the tail wagging the dog in terms of science fiction in print today. It used to be that print was the original medium which film or TV would look to for new ideas. Today most of the bookstore is dominated by TV and film spin-offs with their guaranteed premarketing from the series the books are based upon. Often these are published on a monthly basis and limited literary quality, but their TV connections keep them selling.

The natural descent into space fantasy seems inevitable as many lack an understanding of the most basic scientific principles, they cannot tell space fantasy from science fiction. I recall a random TV survey where around half of those asked thought that the Sun revolved around the Earth!

To sell sci-fi in books I believe we need a return to sci-fi on TV, which I agree is highly unlikely. The UK on TV is awasteland of fantasy. Even my old favourite Doctor Who has been remade as a space fantasy! Worst still parts of the audience don't even notice!

On Tamaras point about anticipation and expectation of the future I think that a major factoris that people are no longer surprised by the new breakthroughs coming through. Apollo 11 amazed the world, as did the first heart transplants. We need something previously thought impossible to occur in order to capture that same essence of wonder.

www.jarillion.com
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specfiction

203 Posts

Posted - 06/16/2007 :  19:16:34  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
You're stealing my thunder. Yeah, it's all very sad. A couple of points: first, I think marketing is partially to blame for the sad state of print SF. Unlike the time of Welles, Clarke, Sagan, and the like, today, SF has been marketed mostly to kids because they're an easy and constant market for formula success. Second, as you said, we (the US, and maybe the UK--I don't know) are no longer a culture where science plays a prominent role.

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The Jarillion

United Kingdom
18 Posts

Posted - 06/19/2007 :  17:54:58  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit The Jarillion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
The media gives the impression that the landlocked states of the US are very fundamentalist Christian in nature. In the UK, I find the majority of society is agnostic. I wonder if there are any significant Science Fiction authors from non-English speaking countries I don't know about? Japanese culture is very fantasy orientated from what I've seen, but I can't help but wonder how cultures that have not had their religion and science at war with one another view the future?

www.jarillion.com
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specfiction

203 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2007 :  09:29:21  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by The Jarillion

The media gives the impression that the landlocked states of the US are very fundamentalist Christian in nature. In the UK, I find the majority of society is agnostic. I wonder if there are any significant Science Fiction authors from non-English speaking countries I don't know about? Japanese culture is very fantasy orientated from what I've seen, but I can't help but wonder how cultures that have not had their religion and science at war with one another view the future?

www.jarillion.com



Yes, there definately is a wave of fundumentalism that has gripped the US--as proof of that note the court cases trying to teach creationism or its surrogate ID in science class (feels like we're back in the 30's) or the fact that three Republican candidates for president don't "beleive" in Evolution. One would think that someone who made such a declaration shouldn't be qualified to teach elementry school, not to mention being unqualified to be president of the US.

As for non-english speaking SF authors--my favorite has always been Stan Lem. His books are some of the best books in print in any genre. They were originally written in Polish.

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