The Next Sci-Fi Wave

I spoke with Mary Robinette Kowal during the retreat about a variety of topics, including genre and the cycle between Fantasy and Sci-Fi. We’re coming off a long cycle of Fantasy dominating popular media (with things like Game of Thrones), and if history is any indicator, a Sci-Fi wave should be starting soon. Mary Robinette recommended that if I have a Sci-Fi story with comedy elements, now would be a good time to work on it.

I agree with her, and I’ve been feeling for a while that people will be hungry for good Sci-Fi soon. I love writing Sci-Fi, so this would be fantastic for me if it holds true. Also, I’ve got a couple of Sci-Fi books I’d like to sell. It sure would be nice if the timing was in my favor.

Considering what I wrote yesterday, is it true? Will popular media shift and change as it has in the past, or will the fidelity and omni-presence of older works slow down the progress and evolution of stories?

I’m honestly not sure. Peter Jackson’s take on Lord of the Rings is a permanent part of our culture and regarded by many as their favorite movie. The ill-conceived Hobbit trilogy may not have delighted all the fans the way Lord of the Rings did, but it still made money, and it didn’t damage the popularity of Lord of the Rings the way the sequel Star Wars trilogy may have damaged its franchise. Game of Thrones is also still present in everyone’s minds, in spite of the dreadful last season. HBO just released a teaser for the next spin-off series.

On the smaller screen, we’ll have the Wheel of Time series very soon.

Fantasy doesn’t appear to be going away or receding. I can’t think of any Sci-Fi franchises on the cusp of seizing everyone’s attention.

I wonder if Superhero movies have taken the place of Sci-Fi in popular media. We certainly are not starved for that content, and I’m not complaining. I love all of it, even if I have very little interest in writing any of it myself.

The last time I visited Barnes & Noble, the Fantasy and Sci-Fi section seemed smaller than I remember. The Sci-Fi section in particular seemed very small, with only a few shelves. It makes me think that the Sci-Fi wave I’m hoping for is not yet on the horizon.

It’s hard to say. I don’t have anything concrete I can point at.

In the long run, it doesn’t matter what the market is doing. I’m going to write what I like to read and write, and if I’m lucky, I’ll find a way to put my stories in front of people.

Maybe the world won’t start on a huge Sci-Fi wave until I put some of my short stories out and give people a reason to be invested in that sort of content again.