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Authors Moving Away from SF?

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
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And one of Banks' culture books was really closer to Fantasy (can't remember the title off hand).
One of his mainstream books (and definitely my joint favourite of his, along with Use of Weapons), also defied easy classification, namely The Bridge.
 

Onyx

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And one of Banks' culture books was really closer to Fantasy (can't remember the title off hand).
Are you thinking of Inversions? Is it fantasy simply because the setting is medieval, even though the protagonists are technology users?
 

Robert Zwilling

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The main reason I've moved away from SF to Fantasy and Alternate History is that I feel I can do so much more in the latter genres. These days I find SF too limiting, with the sole exception of AI, a sub-genre I feel I still have a lot to offer. The other big part of it for me is that I'm getting a tad more depressed about the state of the world, and the likely state of the world in the future... I don't really want to contemplate then write about that any more.

And readers don't want to read about it. The door doesn't open and you know there's a problem coming your way. Is there an uplifting reason for things to continually fail?

Science fantasy is becoming real. Maybe that would interest people. The unfolding of flowers is not done by rubber band powered gizmos. The atoms themselves are rearranging their positions in space. Its like visible quantum mechanics. No one knew how this works and a lot of it is still guesswork. The signals go all up and down the line and its like an orchestra only there are trillions of shows everyday. What kinds of sounds do flowers make when they are opening? Creaking sounds or pleasing melodies? I'm sure there are people working on constructing houses that work the same way. A lot of what we see depends on what wavelength we are residing in. Maybe we need to take a closer look at the world instead of putting as much distance as we can between Earth and where ever the story is taking place.

I like PKD because 50-60 years ago when everything was looking up to great prospects and highly rewarding future, he wrote about how technology was not the silver lining for the common man. He was popular where reconstruction was primarily concerned with bringing the land back to a sense of normalcy, not where progress was constantly updating what was already blooming. He became really popular when his message was transformed into action adventure that everyone could sink their teeth into. The ultimate fantasy, a seemingly ordinary guy winning the day with brute force.

A book is a story presented to an audience. One way to get rid of the gap between the story and the reader, is to use personal drama which allows the reader to identify the characters in the story by giving them a common ground. Using personal drama, the background, or theme of the story can be anything, sicence fiction, fantasy, war, business, romance, entertainment industry, anything will work because the audience is following the drama. Connecting the outside world in a meaningful way to the story the reader is walking through. That common ground used to be an orchestra pit in greek comedy where the people in the orchestra pit communicated with the audience and the actors. The pit extended into the audience and onto the stage. Maybe science fiction stories need to build a new orchestra pit that connects the reader to the play on the stage.
 

Serendipity

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The drift to fantasy could be because science is finally catching up with science fiction.

A good story has got to have an element of unreality about it since real life is boring (that's why we like stories). SF had its heyday at a time when we had enough science to look on space travel and life on nearby worlds as an exciting possibility, but not enough science to know just how difficult and limited space travel really is (and how inhospitable those nearby worlds really are).

That doesn't meant there mustn't be a robust underlying reality as well. World building can't strain our suspension of disbelief too much, so John Carter on Mars works only in a parallel universe - and it was a failure anyway. A fantasy world has got to be consistent. When the laws of physics are invoked they must work as per the real world. The plus side with fantasy, unlike science fiction, is that the realism element does not steadily encroach on the storytelling. Thanks to the internet, people have become very well informed as to what is and isn't scientifically possible. They want an SF story that is believable inasfar as it affirms science, and that has become very hard to pull off. When it is pulled off it's a great success, like The Martian.

There is of course always the halfway house of science fantasy where you just give scientific sounding names to magic. I don't know if that's getting more or less popular. I'm guessing that as people's scientific culture grows, believing in ray guns and hyperdrive becomes harder to do. They are no longer exciting exciting possibilities.
I would like to add that the new science that can be manipulated for new science fiction is there, just not been written about. The results can be jaw-dropping amazing.

Talking from personal experience, trying to get that really innovative science fiction published is difficult. Sometimes I am left thinking it is because publishers and editors are too 'old-fashioned' for them to stomach.

I'm not sure what can be done about it... if I knew I would be doing it!
 

Onyx

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I would like to add that the new science that can be manipulated for new science fiction is there, just not been written about. The results can be jaw-dropping amazing.

Talking from personal experience, trying to get that really innovative science fiction published is difficult. Sometimes I am left thinking it is because publishers and editors are too 'old-fashioned' for them to stomach.

I'm not sure what can be done about it... if I knew I would be doing it!
What kind of jaw-dropping are we talkin' here?
 

Serendipity

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What kind of jaw-dropping are we talkin' here?
One example I like to quote is Mike Hardwick's short story A Glitch in Humanity in
the SFerics 2017 anthology - the same anthology that published Geoff Nelder's shortlisted BSFA 2017 shorter fiction award Angular Size - you can read the start of Mike's story on Amazon free here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1976143381/?tag=brite-21
[I'd rather quote from someone else's fiction than mine because I'm very biased about mine!]
 

Ursa major

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Most obvious example I can think of, off the top of my head, to add to your list is Iain Banks
I'd add Charles Stross: his Merchant Princes and Laundry Files series are, in the way the underlying concepts on which their universes work, more fantasy than SF, the former being portal fantasy, the latter being more Urban Fantasy (with more than a touch of Weird and Horror).

Others may disagree with me, but I feel that both are written in more of an "SF style" (please don't ask me to say what this is ;):)) than a fantasy one... but this may be more a result of me being less aware of, say, Urban fantasy tropes than other readers on this site.
 

Venusian Broon

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Others may disagree with me, but I feel that both are written in more of an "SF style" (please don't ask me to say what this is ;):)) than a fantasy one... but this may be more a result of me being less aware of, say, Urban fantasy tropes than other readers on this site.
Yes that's an interesting point...but as you hint, that'll drop us into the black unforgiving hole that is 'What is SF' etc. :D

It goes the other way as well. A lot of SF books are basically, in my eyes, really just 'fantasy' books, not SF. Just that the standard tropes they use: spaceships, colonial marines, technology rather than magic, (the list goes on and on...) have come from SF sources.
 

Vertigo

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One of his mainstream books (and definitely my joint favourite of his, along with Use of Weapons), also defied easy classification, namely The Bridge.
To be honest many of his 'mainstream' books are pretty weird and uncategorisable(???), The Bridge being a classic example (and also one of my favourites).
Are you thinking of Inversions? Is it fantasy simply because the setting is medieval, even though the protagonists are technology users?
Yes that's the one and although as you say the main protagonist is a technology user she very rarely uses any technology throughout the book which is why it felt to me more like a fantasy, albeit one with no magic.
 
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