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Old 01-01-2013, 06:33 AM   #1
kennyc
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LA Review of books on "The Widening Gyre" in Short Science Fiction

I just read about this in (Rich Horton’s column) in Locus, thought I’d pass the link along for others:

The “exhaustion” in short SF:
Quote:
“The Widening Gyre: 2012 Best of the Year Anthologies
September 3rd, 2012 reset - +
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
THE OVERWHELMING SENSE ONE GETS, working through so many stories that are presented as the very best that science fiction and fantasy have to offer, is exhaustion. Not so much physical exhaustion (though it is more tiring than reading a bunch of short stories really has any right to be); it is more as though the genres of the fantastic themselves have reached a state of exhaustion.
In the main, there is no sense that the writers have any real conviction about what they are doing. Rather, the genre has become a set of tropes to be repeated and repeated until all meaning has been drained from them. For example, “Dolly” by Elizabeth Bear (in the Gardner Dozois collection), is a story of police investigating a murder that may have been committed by a robot. It is not a bad story, in the sense that it is efficiently told, with enough detail of character and setting to reward the reader, but the story itself deliberately harks back to the robot stories that Isaac Asimov was writing in the 1940s. Bear has brought the trope up to date, but she has not extended the idea or found anything radically new in it. Asimov’s stories can still entertain, and Bear’s story is much the same, but to find that one of what we are told are the best stories of 2011 is ploughing a furrow that is more than seventy years old is somehow dispiriting.
…”
http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.p...-text-cutpoint
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:37 PM   #2
Ninjalawyer
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I read quite a bit of scifi and do some writing in that genre and I completely agree with Kincaid.

Science fiction is more and more interested in the fiction aspect of that genre title rather than the science as authors realize that: (i) the future is becoming more and more difficult to predict; (ii) readers are often interested more in well-worn tropes of the genre than in an exploration of the philosophical implications of a future. That's all fine, but it does make the genre less interesting as it detaches itself from broader culture in favour of more inward-looking naval gazing.

This isn't to say that no scifi manages to boldly embrace the future, just that it's becoming more rare. As Kincaid notes, it is telling that the Hugo and Nebula awards have become speculative fiction awards rather than scifi awards.
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