Editorial – April 2019: Losing the young generation.

April 12, 2019 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone

Are we losing SF readers to SF films and TV shows? I mean there’s enough of it about to cut into reading time. What is a worrying problem is when the studios deem the SF bubble has burst and cut back on production, what is the modern day SF fan going to do? After all, they are less nostalgic and those who are would have bought the films on DVD or Blu-ray just rely on downloads so aren’t going to take an interest in the extras, let alone film history. They’re more likely to look on early films without CGI as primitive and in some cases, even poorly paced. Books are less likely to get a look-in.

We are also losing potential geeks as well. Worse, they might agree on over-saturation and like any trend move on, hoping for something better to stimulate them. Think of playing an old computer game after playing a new computer game and spotting its deficiencies.Look at what is happening to the cancellation of various super-hero based TV shows right now. Even the studios have difficulty in sorting out what will please the fans over other than top quality. With so much money invested, they can’t afford too many failures. I doubt if the likes of Hollywood are going to rely on fresh ideas when they can do perpetual remakes or on-going film series.

Even so, the neglect of the written SF is already taking its toll with some imprints vanishing altogether. Some publishers rely on agents to supply them with new material. The agents in turn want to find work for the writers they already have, especially where they can make more money, than recruit new authors. Look at how many SF writers have suddenly turned their hand to fantasy. When you consider fantasy makes more money than SF, it would be considered a good move but also empties the SF shelves of new material and nothing new to replace it with. A vicious circle, especially if they go to series.

Amateur writers are increasingly going self-published, cutting out agents altogether because they can’t get a look in. The quality is variable but, equally, few are approaching paper publishers neither. I doubt if many of them want the fuss and just happy to have their names out there in some form. With ebooks, there is the thought that they will make money but few do. There aren’t any breakout authors and SF desperately needs them these days.

There’s a possibility that the George RR Martin based ‘Wild Cards’ TV series will do similar numbers to that fantasy series he was involved in but you do have to wonder how close will they follow the books and the viewers follow the parallel history. Even so, considering it’s a mosaic book series using multiple authors, I doubt if any other publisher can quickly yield something with a by-line ‘like such and such book series…’ Given a similar premise, to create a similar kind of story, they would have to rely on authors they already employ but would their agents accept short story rates? Of course, with the transition of SF book series to a TV series, there’s a lot out there but few with a big fan base. Technically, even ‘Wild Cards’ has a small fan base but it’s the George RR Martin name, even if he only mostly edited it, that gave it the green light.

It does point out that the reduced SF books sales could also mean a reduction of potential ideas fodder for film or TV series. New blood is essential in our genre and a definite revival in our genre. One obvious thing is for some publishers, this doesn’t apply to all, to stop relying on agents to do their work for them and encourage new talent to come to them. It’s not a bad system from the last century and although it does take time to sift for diamonds, they are out there to be found. Think of the energy of a publisher known for finding new talent. Revitalisation is important but so is finding a reading audience.

Even in the digital age, being published on paper is seen as the pinnacle to achieve. Mostly, I suspect, is because it is more permanent. Things might last a long time on the Internet but it doesn’t necessarily mean people are reading it. The same might be said about paper if you consider short print runs but you can always discover a book on a shelf that looks interesting. With digital, you would need to know what you are looking for and, as I pointed out in last month’s editorial, algorithm direction does not allow purely random chance.

It seems contradictory that the written word SF is dying slowly by complacency when SF films and TV shows is growing. That’s not to say that both can’t exist together but neglect is worrying. Social media is encouraging isolation but it’s not driving what made us geeks in the first place. If anything, it’s was being social pariahs and being loners at school. We stood out by being different, unable to help ourselves. The Internet seems to be encouraging certain types of stereotype. Oddly, with so many of us interested in computers and technology, the geek community seem to be absorbed. I think we need to raise our heads and remind people we are still out there and, yes, we still like to read SF. After all, it lets our minds and imagination do the walking. Sometimes, we don’t need moving pictures to visualise what words can achieve.


Thank you, take care, good night and may your book collection ever shine.


Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info


A Zen thought: Words are a life sentence on the page.


What Qualities Does A Geek Have: We don’t like being complacent.

We have multiple interests simultaneously.


The Reveal: If you were ever curious as to seeing actor Peter Dyneley (the voice of Jeff Tracy in ‘Thunderbirds’ looked and acted then get the 1961 series ‘Ghost Squad’ and look at the 9th episode, ‘Million Dollar Random’. The guest cast across the episodes of season one yields some interesting finds including Paul Maxwell and William Hartnell. Interestingly, paying attention to the credits you’ll also find ‘Doctor Who’ scriptwriter Robert Holmes and actor Roger Delgado there.


Observation: If you have to choose between a human or a grammar algorithm checker, go for the former. The latter misses so much that you have to wonder if their programmers had much experience of doing grammar.


Observation: Has anyone ever seen a proper picture in the comicbooks of Doom Patrol’s Cliff Steele before his racing accident?


Observation: The problem with an extended life-span is nobody else lives forever.


Observation: Here’s a puzzle for you. I can understand why Black Bolt of the Inhumans wears a masked containment suit because of his powers and he needs something to hang that hook on his forehead, but why would the rest of the royal family do? All right, so Crystal doesn’t, but what about the rest of them? I think it’s an act of solidarity.


Observation: With the ‘Alien’ xenomorphs and the allegory to acting like ants, so where is the male drone to fertilise the queen?


Observation: Why is there an assumption that Private Hudson was killed by the xenomorphs in ‘Aliens’? He was carried away as much as Newt was. Just a shame we never heard his last words when the Atmosphere Processing Plant detonated.


Observation: When you think about all the various things you should do that can extend your life-span, you do have to wonder how much further than 100% it can do.


Feeling Stressed: Only if you don’t have an extended life-span.


Category: World getting weirder

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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