Thursday, July 5, 2012

AMAZING STORIES Interviews begins...

Check out the restored/reinvented/rejuvenated/reincarnated Amazing Stories online. Among other delights, it features a series of round-table discussions with the members of Book View Cafe.

I had such fun participating in this project. Each of us began the discussion of a different question, so that no one person had to set the tone. And because we're all um, highly opinionated people, there's a delicious diversity of viewpoints, as well as ideas building on one another. Except for the format, which allowed only one response from each participant to each question, the discussion has the flavor of a panel at a convention.

From the website, click on  the cover or here to get started. The first questions are, "Is science fiction definable?" and "Is science fiction dying?" Here's my answer to the second one:

I read this question in three different ways.

One, have we run out of sfnal ideas and writers to turn them into stories?

Two, is it so unprofitable to publish sf that the genre is headed for extinction?
Three, are readers no longer interested in sf? Here is my own very brief answer to the first.

We have not run out of ideas, enthusiasm, or writers. In its history, science fiction received two enormous boosts. The first came at the end of the 19th Century, with the Victorian era explosion of technology and scientific discovery. This was the era that gave us Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, and the next generations of writers. It also continues to generate tales of mechanical genius, romance, and adventure through the current steampunk genre, which hearkens back to the time when technology was understandable by the ordinary person.

The second boost came with the space race of the mid-20th Century and the focus on science education, plus the coupling of astronomy, post World War II pyrotechnics, and old-fashioned derring-do. Then came a period of disenchantment with technology and with science itself; when invention created more problems than it solved, the future no longer looked so shiny. I hope the pendulum has begun to swing the other way now. Although the frenzied pace of manned space exploration has moderated, today’s crop of space telescopes (Hubble, Chandra, Kepler, and others) bring us the universe as we have never before seen it, so I hope there will be no lack of inspiration in astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, oceanography, computers… and therefore, no dearth of great science fiction story ideas.

Up next: Is literary fiction better than science fiction? Hope you enjoy the discussion!

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