Space Ramblings

The Fading Days of Science Fiction

With the death of Arthur C. Clarke, it’s hard not to notice that the Science Fiction of the present has lost much of what attracted so many to Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein in the first place. Squeezed on one side by market realities and merchandising novels and on the other by the erosion of quality and the loss of basic storytelling skills, Science Fiction today is a pale shadow of what it once was.

Science Fiction today is less concerned with the future than it is with the present. Faith in the future has given way to trends of technophobia and luddite sentiments not only in the usual haunts in Hollywood but in many books as well written by authors raised on Hollywood’s technophobic versions of Science Fiction’s vision.

The genre itself has grown convoluted, more concerned with itself than with serving as an open door to welcome in readers. Less concerned with telling a good story and more concerned with posing against the backdrop of some moral quandary and the latest scientific trend. It’s no wonder that anime is a lot more popular among the teenagers who should have been SF’s new readers and that the average age of the Science Fiction reader is continuing to trend upward and that the market accommodates it.

Science Fiction is killing itself off by turning inward, by catering to its core demographics’ preoccupations and failing to attract new readers in the process. What Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein brought first and foremost to their writing was a strong solid sense of rationalized order combined with an unfailing enthusiasm for exploring the possibilities and wonders of the universe. Both are qualities sadly lacking in Science Fiction today.

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