Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Genre accessibility

You'll have to forgive me a bit of silence around here, oh imaginary reader. I'm in the middle of organising a move interstate, and apparently I'm very bad at packing. I'm hoping, though, that when I arrive in the new city a) I'll have lots of writing time, because b) I'll have no friends.

One writing-related thing has grabbed my attention recently, though: the description of a panel that Charlie Stross is going to be on at Boskone 48, an SF convention in Boston from February 18-20 (found on Charlie's blog).
Has SF Eaten Itself?

(Charles Stross, Kathryn Cramer, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Allen M. Steele)

Has our genre consumed itself so that we now cannot imagine a future for it? One of SF's lasting strengths has been as a continuing conversation between writer and reader -- and between writer and writer. Each new idea has spawned replies and elaborations, pushing the genre along. But is it possible that SF today is so deep into this conversation that it's lost its appeal to the neo? (Could this lack explains some of the attraction of fairly elementary SF such as that on TV or in anime?) Do you need a master's degree in SF history to really appreciate modern SF?
I'd really love to be able to attend this one. It's a topic I sometimes talk over with a good friend of mine. She's a big reader of literary fiction, and a writer herself, and I've got a lot of time for her opinions. She (sometimes) enjoys SF from the '50s and '60s, but anything modern basically leaves her cold. That saddens me a little, because I'd love to share some of my excitement with her.

Unfortunately, I don't currently have any insight to offer on the topic of genre accessibility. Too much brain-space taken up with packing, perhaps. With any luck I'll come back later and try to talk through some of my thoughts. I guess the question I wonder about most is this: if it is true that SF is no longer particularly accessible to new readers, what (if anything) can we do about it?

(And if, by any chance, you're going to attend that panel at Boskone, I'd love to hear about what is said!)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A bit of variety?

I'm still pondering what it is that I enjoy so much about anthologies edited by Jonathan Strahan, and a thought occurs. Virtually all of the ones I have read contained science fiction and fantasy stories. So perhaps the thing I like best is a bit of genre variety?

This makes Engineering Infinity an even more interesting prospect, since I'm pretty sure it's a pure hard SF anthology.