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.


Missed Opportunity:

            Reviewers come in all ages and tastes and I’m sure I can find something for you.

            I’m always on the lookout for new writers, especially that rare breed called ‘reviewer’. Can’t get enough of them. Don’t feel because we are the top of the tree, that I don’t want new talent. I just want people who can write and improve with practice and a little coaching.

            What you have below are two choices. Send me a sample review and let me pass comment. The second choice is to read all the info below, just in case you want to understand more about the protocols.

            Some things are put in bold, not so much because they are any more important but more to add a little more emphasis. Welcome to my mind and be grateful you don’t have to live it in your ability to self-express.

            If you regularly read 50-100 pages of a book a day, then you might be reviewer material.

            The real technical details for the geeks who want all the details. If you don’t, just send me a sample review.


            If you aren’t seeing the types of book or authors here you would want to read, chances are that I don’t have any reviewers who do them. I’m stocking up on reviewers right now. The extended info is below but essentially, if you can write and breathe and make good observations, you stand a chance. If you make grammatical errors, then I have your back. Email me at: gfwillmetts at hotmail.com

NOTE: Although there are details below, please observe the bigger message elsewhere on site. I’m always recruiting reviewers and this is the time of year to recruit as the nights are shorter and so you might be sleeping less If you’re living in the UK, love books and feel a bit geeky then read the notes below. You have to love reading anyway. You might be what I’m looking for and I do train people up and it’s good for your writer’s CVs and books to feed your reading habit. As some of my team are discovering, they can also interview writers and write articles as well. You can do that without reviewing as well but reading and reviewing is a good discipline. We’re a good team to belong to.

Polls And Opinions: We did have them for a time but the new version was causing a mess in WordPress so until a new version that doesn’t cause conflicts comes around, we’ll have to do without them but please use the answer option at the end of any material to express comments because we do read them.

For the record: For the odd query I have about being linked to media contacts. I do not have either a personal twitter or facebook account. There’s enough of me here to not outstay my welcome. I’m also puzzled why some people see SFC as a blog site when we’re not. We were in this format long before blogs. It’s getting to the point that people can’t tell the difference between blog and butter.

Beware Of Virus Attacks: December 2012, even though I hadn’t left an active link to my email address, it got solidly attacked and then blocked from everyone, including myself. By necessity, having a form of open contact to me comes as part of the editor’s job. I’m still seeking reviewers and new material so follow the paths through the website and go where no spam-bot dares. I’ve yet to see them write anything. Humans and aliens can apply. Monsters need to prove they can read and write. We could do with some reviewers who like fantasy right now. Don’t be scared of the instructions, you’d be surprised how easy it is to learn. So, if you want to contact me, build these words into an email address: gfwillmetts at hotmail dot com I won’t bite, although that doesn’t preclude others. In fact, I’ll settle for any more willing reviewers who love to read. Did I say I was after reviewers?

NB: We do get digital books and if you live abroad and not in the UK, then this avenue could be open to you. I’m not putting it in as a link to avoid spam. Just copy and paste into your emails to contact me with my address noted in the paragraph above. I’m always recruiting and details are through a link on the top of the SFC main page articles and stories as well. Just because it’s sunny, doesn’t mean you’re going to read any less. We could do with some more fantasy readers right now! We could do with any of you interested in learning how to be reviewers period.

If you’ve on a budget, a book for a review is a good bargain and I can teach the nervous how to do it by seeing what you do when you present a sample. It’s a good deal. We get books in a variety of formats these days so all things are possible to those with the knack for putting words into sentences and saying what they think.

For potential book reviewers in the UK, it’s a good way to keep up your reading habit and show you can write. There are detail links scattered over the website and on the forum. If you don’t think you’re up to scratch, you’ll discover why I’m the dutch uncle. Repeating this several times is for those who only scan and who don’t want to wind back up the page.

Another real Zen thought but this time for potential writers: If you can express an opinion independently of others and aren’t likely to bend to the masses then you might show potential as a writer.

Zen for those who are scared by all the instructions below: Many of the instructions are things you should be doing automatically if you’re developing your writing skills. If you do them already then focus on the ones that you don’t get right. They are there to help you as much as me to get the best writing from you. If you think you’re 80% there then I’ll help you get the final 20%. Trust me, I’m an editor and I can get things right.

BOOK REVIEWS    – Don’t feel intimated by all the info below or linked to. If you’re any good as a writer, much of it should be second nature already. This is just the long hand version.

Do you love books? Do you like curling up and reading a book in preference to socialising, even on the Net? You might not even want to curl up, that’s only an option. Do you have a preference for fantasy, SF or horror? We really could do with some fantasy readers!!! Do you find it the greatest pastime you have next to being on your computer?

Are you very vocal about what you like and don’t like in what you read?

Would you like to share your thoughts with others about books?

Would you like an endless supply of books to do this with?

Do you live in the UK?

Can you spare an hour every day to read?

Do you think you can write about what you’ve read?

Are you finding the recession is hitting your book buying habit?

If you’ve been nodding your head up to this point then link in below and see if you have what it takes to be a reviewer at SFCrowsnest. If you have that special knack to read and write or want to develop said skill then the only way you’re going to find out is to take the plunge yourself rather than wait for others to do it first. Reading a lot of books is a requisite for any writer. Being able to say what makes them good or bad hones your own skills. Even if you’re just happy with reading with a little writing on the side then this might be for you. It’s got to be better than waiting for the sun to come out in this weird summer and now cold winter. It’s also amazing how much you can read in an hour a day.

If you’ve survived this far in the editorial, let me reiterate something from the website newsletter and the above editorial. As you can see from the main page, we have one of the biggest SF/fantasy/horror monthly reviews columns on the Net. Our success has increased the number of books that comes in and our policy is to read everything and give it a roadtest before giving a review so you have some idea of what you’re letting yourself in for. You want the bottom line about what you’re going to choose to read. That means we need people actually willing to read the book and tell others they’re opinion in reviews. For that, we’re always on the outlook for more reviewers.

Do you think you have what it takes to review a book? It’s a skill that can be easily mastered and we need a few more. If you love fantasy, we have more than enough to keep you busy for instance.

Apart from the ability to put words into sentences, you also need to know how to précis, do a little research on associated subjects and can express opinions constructively about the good and bad points about the books you read. We even let you choose from our pile of received books rather than foster something on you that you wouldn’t normally read. You’ll even get a little editorial help in how to write good copy and that can always lead to other things. I’m not as scary as I sound editorially and it’s better to do the test review and see how you fare than not attempt to see how well you did. I did say you have to love books and willing to read beyond your favourite authors, didn’t I?

If you like reading books in the genre and can average two or maybe three a month, can really think and show you can write a decent review and, most importantly, live in the British Isles (sorry, expense, time and distance travelled mostly prohibits elsewhere), then use the link below and see our requirements. We can’t pay you but writing a review has to be cheaper than buying a book and a good incentive to see if you have what it takes to develop your writing skills.

Do you think you’re up to writing a review? If you think you can, then you’re really going to think you’ve landed your hands in the biscuit tin. It won’t hurt to try and see if you have the right stuff by sending me a sample review to show me you can write. If you want an added incentive, it can also be good for your CV.

Look up the Review Guidelines by linking here: <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_reviews.php”></a> with a press of a mouse button.


We always have an interest in running short stories which can be anything from one to thirty or so pages long. We’re always willing to give short story writers a chance to be seen if they can withstand my scrutiny even if we can’t pay for their efforts, your material will be seen by a lot of people if it’s shown on the SFCrownest website. If you can get a short story written well then it’ll make it easier to move up to novel-length.

Look up the Short Stories Link by linking here <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_bigfiction.php”></a> with your mouse.


We’ve also a teaching ground of one page stories, so check out the rules elsewhere on the website. It’s a lot tougher than it looks and far too easy to just write and write and hope something good comes out of it. What writing a one page story does is test your ability to control your word count and still tell a story in a concise way. This doesn’t mean we don’t accept stories of different lengths – a short story can be anything up to 30-40 pages long after all – but opens up the means for really short stories from ideas that don’t need as much space.

Flash fiction stories by linking here: <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_flashfic.php”></a> with your mouse.


For those keeping track, I’m actually now caught up but don’t tell everyone as I’m undecided as to whether to keep looking at novel-length story samples, move over specifically to short stories – which we do anyway for the website – or get a couple of my own book projects completed. The latter, I still intend to do anyway and now actually working on but don’t let that put you off too much. If you want me to look over a sample, you can contact me through the links on this website.

Before you submit, study the next section below as it’s there to help you do some of the right things and reduce the number of times I’m repeating myself over silly grammatical errors and spelling mistakes that you shouldn’t be making if you’re serious about becoming a writer. It makes editing a lot easier if any editor has less work pointing out poor English which you should have been sorted out in the first place and more focused on other areas of your work that deal with plot and the other serious elements of storywriting. As a writer, it is your command of the English language and its grammar that will show how serious you are about writing.

There might not be much of a wait unless I get a deluge, however those sending in ebook samples, please read the Guidelines by linking here <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_bigfiction.php”></a> with your mouse here or through the bottom line menu on the opening page of the SFC website.


General advice for those who want to become writers of any sort: There’s an old editorial adage: If you can’t aim for perfection why should an editor nurse-maid you to that state? Nominally, my job is to catch minor glitches not total mishaps. If you’re a writer, then you should understand the words, sentences and grammar of the job you’re supposed to be writing or are you considering it as mundane and boring as any other job to get right? Fall in love with making every sentence the best you’re ever written, read up and understand the rules of grammar. Put the time in researching any subject you’re using in the story. Be prepared to put a story away for a few weeks and go back to it for a self-edit until it’s as good as you can make it. Even I do that. You look good. I make you look better but you have to start off with good.

A lot of the time, errors will just stare you in the face when you didn’t see them the first time round. Once you know where your weaknesses are, they can be sorted out and allow you to move a little higher up the ladder towards making your material look its best and more importantly, getting your material seen by readers.

The link here will show you the Common Problems Link page and what I see mostly <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_commonprobs.php”></a>

with your mouse. It’s the smart writer who doesn’t get caught out with these.

Good luck.


Category: World getting weirder

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 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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