I love science fiction. Seriously, even bad science fiction. I love it so much that I’ve decided to publish my own science fiction book (lol, we’ll see). Lately though, I have been thinking about how screwed modern science fiction creators are.
Star Wars gave birth to the modern science fiction era. I know, Star Trek came first by more than a decade, but it lost its popularity and didn’t become mainstream until Star Wars smashed the world with its dominance. Then we had these two major star epics, able to maintain themselves despite one another because of their differences. They both created and maintain HUGE fan bases. I’m a big fan of both (say whaaaat? That’s not legal).
So I walk up and down the science fiction sections of my local chain book stores and I see huge sections dedicated to Star Wars and Star Trek. Their popularity is not going away. With the rebooting of Trek and the upcoming Star Wars movies, they will probably gain new, younger fans. They have both entrenched themselves as science fiction kings (and they both somehow managed to get the same king to direct them – J.J. Abrams).
So where does that leave the rest of the science fiction world? Screwed. Nothing has reached the popularity of those two giants, and I doubt anything will. The best anyone else can do is hope to avoid comparison to one or the other. Unfortunately, almost all space science fiction will draw those comparisons. It takes something truly different to break out in science fiction, and even then, it is tough.
I love Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series and the movie based on it is coming out on November 1st (barring any controversial holdup). Unfortunately, it is going to suffer comparisons to the star greats. It will also be compared to Hunger Games. Speaking of Hunger Games it seems like that Suzanne Collins hit the right trend in sci-fi.
It seems like dystopian sci-fi is what is really working now. Maybe that’s because so many people are unhappy with the current state of global affairs. It sure does sell books! Of course this is nothing new. I loved 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. Those books were great successes, but really only as books. Maybe we’ll see some of them become movies soon, but that seems to be where books like the Hunger Games come in. They have capitalized on dystopian sci-fi.
Hugh Howey’s Wool is an awesome work of science fiction and I could connect with it. I also never thought of comparing in to the major sci-fi greats because it is so different. Again, it is a dystopian sci-fi adventure, so it is getting in on the current trend.
So, when I say science fiction is screwed, I really mean space-based sci-fi. The kings of that genre are already in place and anyone that wants success will really have to lower the bar of what they consider a win. Successful sci-fi will have to reinvent itself.
For the record, my sci-fi thriller is on Earth, then space, then back into a dystopian-like Earth. Maybe I’ll get lucky.