Editorial – May 2023: Do SF authors think the end is nigh?

Hello everyone,

Think on that title above. There is one thing that covid delayed genre authors writing three years ago and we are seeing the lack of new material at the moment. However, it does raise an odd question as to whether mankind has much of a future when all it takes is another world-wide infection that could potentially wipe out our species to slow the production of SF. What kind of future are we facing or do the pros think we are facing that won’t have a need for books in any form?

We have seen very few man-made global infections, let alone natural infections used in SF simply because alien infections and other kinds of disasters used because they don’t catch the public imagination. Certainly, it doesn’t pop up in SF plots very often and certainly not of late, although it did pop up there were at least 20 SF films using them, although I doubt if we want to watch them all the time. It does leave the suggestion that Science Fiction presumes the end of mankind when it offers no solutions. With covid, we were lucky but that isn’t always likely to happen. We have to be right all the time, a deadly infection needs only for it to happen once.

With books, though, not by deliberate intension but, for much of the time, if there was a choice between big spaceships battles and micro-life, the former will always win. If anything, we tend to ignore life hard to see without a microscope. A fatal viral infection used in war doesn’t discriminate and will also tend to kill both sides and probably as dangerous as a nuclear war, which is why it isn’t considered and germ warfare is outlawed. Given the choice, which do you think makes the better reading? There’s a limit to the number of stories before repetition and even the example films has other things going on, including zombies, for the macro level which is us.

Editorial – May 2023: Do SF authors think the end is nigh?
Editorial – May 2023: Do SF authors think the end is nigh?

Considering how pessimistic certain aspects of Science Fiction is, you would think SF writers would take real life events in their stride not reacting as other humans would. Then again, true fatality tends to stop anyone in their tracks, so why should SF authors be any different? Well, mostly anyway. Despite the fact that writers tend to work alone and less likely to encounter many other people. For my own part, although I didn’t stop writing, I was more conscious of the type of story I was writing and was sure people didn’t want to read quite so much about murder.

Outside of Covid, we have weather changes from global warming and all sorts of world-ending disasters that you can take your pick or a combination of them that won’t leave much left if unchecked. From a Science Fiction perspective, how can we compete with that?

Science Fiction can be optimistic but too much of it can be unbalancing, Too much of a happy pill and they all start looking alike, outside of series books. With the world about to end, will people want to start a series of books knowing they might not reach the end? Yet writers, by and large, write alone and are pretty isolated much of the time. Situation normal really. There shouldn’t have been that much of a change 3 years ago.

One thing SF can be very good at is showing the consequences of any actions. We err on caution when it comes to giving Artificial Intelligence too much freedom although when you consider the number of AI-bots currently on the Internet that hasn’t stopped their creation, we’re just not clever enough to make them truly sentient. When we do, you’ll have to count the hours rather than days before someone makes something truly malevolent.

With our current crisises showing that we are slow to make changes, we have a problem when it comes to SF interpretations because any of which has to relate to solving them. As SF authors have pointed out in the past, they are not soothsayers with all the answers. With what we currently know, it’ll take decades to resolve global warming, let alone get every country to contribute to the solution. What good is it if only one country reduces its carbon footprint and several bigger ones don’t? Nature doesn’t discriminate. A bit difficult to sum up in any story and do it too many times, it will make the plot old very quickly. To make it worse, there’s no ready answer that can end a story on a happy note. If anything, all we can do is curb any old practices that might have fatal consequences.

Oddly, I don’t include cutting down trees to make books as one of these, providing we plant more as replacement. Should there ever be a nuclear war, then a lot of the things we take for granted like the Internet faces being wiped. Paper, short of incineration, might be our or at least the survivors salvation for knowledge and entertainment.

Considering it normally takes 2 to 3 years to get a book out and there’s been a singular absence of many one-offs compared to series books in our genre this year. Even the books we’re currently being offered, many aren’t out until the autumn. Gives a great opportunity for some of us to read books piled up, bought but never read or just to have some time off. I think the biggest surprise is how much covid hit the book industry. It’s a rather scary thought that if ever the world should end and known in a few months, there will be an absence of new books coming out. Will our descendants look back at our current decade and wonder what happened to all our writers?

Thank you, take care, good night and encourage books by buying and reading them.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: Hold that thought, it might have a second usage.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: Contemplation is better than no contemplation.

The Reveal: You can’t tell a joke seriously.

Observation: The MSN link into facts about Ouija Boards earlier in the month points out that catholic priests objected to them for supernatural activity. That did raise a question mark as how do they regard praying in that respect? Doesn’t the supernatural select divinity?

 Observation: Think about this. To call someone ‘bird-brained’ is actually calling them very smart as a generalisation. After all, many birds are good with tools and can actually count and observe as well as we can.

 Observation: Looking again at the USS Discovery from ‘2001’, and the Poole rescue, Bowman is in the command deck. HAL has to close the Pod hatch, refill the Pod section with air to allow Bowman in, evacuate the air again so he can take a second pod out. That has to take more than 5 minutes so hardly an immediate rescue. The change in air pressure would surely have reminded him about going with a helmet.

  Poole is also floating away at a relative speed to the Discovery and so is Bowman or he would not be able to rescue him. That would also mean he couldn’t come to a stop to grab his fellow astronaut because he would never get his speed up match the Discovery on the way back. Ergo, HAL would have won either way.

 Observation: Have you ever wondered why people can’t buy gingerbread houses anymore? However, considering how those two children set fire to the last place, its probably an insurance issue.

 Observation: Have you noticed, the older we get, the fewer reference points we are getting with the current generation. I wonder if this was also true for our parents and grandparents. Things never change apparently in that respect.

 Observation: If Disney are so intent to turn all their animated classics into live-action, when are we due to see ‘Bambi’?

 Nothing New: The 1944 film ‘It Happened Tomorrow’ meets the TV series ‘Early Edition’ (1996-2000). Get your tomorrow’s paper today.

 Observation: You never see a lit candle upside down.

 Feeling Stressed: You would if you saw a lit candle upside down.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.