I speculated some time ago that though we needed to have more inspiring science fiction, and that we may have had some kind of “imagination gap,” that we also had to ask what the best form is to deliver it (books, webcomics, etc.). I consider it a legitimate question since the first goal after creating the good fiction, is to get it out there.
Lately I’ve been editing Serdar’s “Flight of the Vajra” (which I can say, our friendship aside, is quite good). Sitting down to my first SF novel in awhile has made me think about my former essay and opinions. Specifically that the newer forms (webcomics, serial fiction, etc.) right now are not the best way to deliver the revolutionary/return-to-imagination SF I’m talking about.
Yes I said that. Me the technophile and neophile is thinking we might need to take it back a notch and keep it old school for awhile.
First and foremost my concern is that we need to have better SF that inspires and guides us, and to get it out to people. Understandable.
My second concern was that we need to consider the multiple methods available to distribute it. Fine and good, we want the ones that work.
However, as I read a solid SF novel and muse over what forms work, it seems apparent to me that the forms of novels with a physical footprint and singular/episodic video (television shows, but maybe online) are the best methods at this time. Why do I say that? You might be surprised.
These Are Known Methods: Simply the novel and the show/movie are known ways for delivering solid science fiction. A they are how we’re used to getting SF as a whole, and they appeal to a broad audience. As much as I’m a fan of Girl Genius, a webcomic does not always have the widest psychological reach (which is why I’m thrilled about their book efforts). In time this will change, I am sure.
These Are Proven Methods for Delivery: These methods of delivery are proven to work. That’s how we got Foundation, 2001, Star Trek, and more. Heck, I think thanks to Harry Potter and other phenomena people are reading more anyway. So we know these methods work.
These Are Methods That Work for the Writers – For A Reason: When you edit an SF novel you quickly realize that some media are suited for certain things. Novels and to an extent television, via both practice and nature, are simply good for delivering certain ideas and concepts, and I think this holds true for science fiction.
These Are Methods Writers are Trained In: Far be it from me to avoid progress or moving forward, nor to suggest authors shouldn’t explore webcomics, serial fiction, game writing etc. I think it’s just important to note in an age where we need good SF, that we might as well leverage what a lot of authors are trained in. This will change in time (perhaps generationally), but I think it’s something to consider.
These Are Methods Easy To Market: Also let me not be crassly commercial, but sophisticatedly commercial – I think these are methods that are easy to market, and easy to market to the wide audience that needs them. Yes, it’s because of familiarity.
So I think as for now I’d like to see SF, good SF, the SF we need, focus on existing media methods. The others will come – the others,indeed, should be explored. But as for now I think this is how to get the ideas out there to the wide audience hungry for them.
Books and video. Let’s move into the future old school for awhile.