Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Death of Science Fiction?

I was asked to comment on "the death of science fiction" today; here's what I had to say:
Science fiction isn't dead; it's in the witness-protection program, and thriving under a new identity. The term "science fiction" is downplayed by Hollywood and American publishing, so that movies like The Time Travelers Wife, TV shows like my own FlashForward and even Battlestar Galactica, and writers like Michael Crichton and J.D. Robb are all hits but not presented as being science fiction. Even the SciFi Channel is now going under the alias Syfy! Sometimes it makes sorry I got sfwriter.com for my web address ...

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8 Comments:

At September 02, 2009 9:35 AM , Blogger JT Justman said...

'sfwriter' - Time to move to San Francisco!

 
At September 02, 2009 10:42 AM , Blogger The Snake said...

There's such a stigma attached to the words "science fiction." I remember arguing with a guy that "Children of Men" was science fiction movie. A position he seemed surprised I would even suggest. I guess he just expected science fiction meant Star Trek.

I remember an interview with J. J. Abrams where he said Lost was never marketed as science fiction because science fiction shows never become mainstream hits (except for the X-files). It's frustrating.

 
At September 02, 2009 10:42 AM , Blogger Michael A. Burstein said...

Witness protection - a very clever way of putting it.

 
At September 02, 2009 1:30 PM , Blogger Ryan McFadden said...

Isn't this almost true of all genre fiction? Horror is now called Supernatural Thriller (such as Rollins and Child/Preston) and kept in the mainstream section. I'm sure Flashforward will soon find it's way out of the Sci-Fi section and into mainstream.

Perhaps the definition of Science Fiction has changed (for the masses anyway). Unless it's Space Opera, it's no longer considered Science Fiction?

 
At September 02, 2009 10:38 PM , Blogger David said...

And who came up with "SyFy". Someone forgot to tell the execs that it was pronounced "Skiffy". SyFy is a pitiful name for the channel, but then, that's an apt description of the majority of their original movies.

-- david j.

 
At September 03, 2009 12:58 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Ryan, I think that's exactly right. :) Ever since STAR WARS, "science fiction" and "space opera" have been synonyms. Bugs the hell out of me. ;)

 
At September 04, 2009 12:24 AM , Blogger Us in SA said...

Witness protection is a great way to describe the state of SF in the mainstream! I have to say my blood boils every time I hear a Hollywood director claim "Oh no, my film isn't Science Fiction", as if that was a bad thing.

 
At September 04, 2009 9:34 PM , Blogger Anne Gilbert said...

I dunno. Who came up with the idea that science fiction was "dead"? And how do they explain the many sub-genres that exist under its umbrella? I mean, the various sorts of fantasy, alternate history or alternate universes, cyber-punk, you name it. . . . there's a lot of it out there on the shelves and on the screen. Oh yes, and you're right about the "mainstream" stuff.

 

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