What is the state (or states) of SF/F writing today?
April 28, 2013 § 2 Comments
As these disparate thoughts began to coalesce into something more than impressions if not also less than concrete lines of thinking, I began to wonder if some of the issues I was having with reading contemporary SF/F might be that in comparison to certain other literary genres, SF/F discussion seems to be oriented more toward delineating approaches and less toward the transgression of those approaches. It is not as much a matter of individual writers (I can readily identify several writers whose works flow between the porous walls of interpretation and delineation) as it is a categorical one.
What innovations, if any, are there occurring in SF/F these days? Are they merely the expansion of the authorial pool to include non-Anglophones, non-Caucasians, non-straights, non-males? Or is there something else taking place within those works most frequently categorized as “SF/F” that diversifies the writing/subject matter beyond those contributions made by women/GLBTQ/PoCs? At times, I find myself wondering if the writing emerging today reflects a crisis of self-identification. By that, I am looking beyond the author and toward the subjects that the authors treat. Is there anything “new” being said in these pieces, or as an aggregate, is SF/F more engaged in looking back or looking inward than outwards toward the creation of new cultural/literary paradigms?
These are the sorts of questions that I ponder sometimes when I encounter SF/F debates online; I do not think of these as much when I’m reading discussions on recent fictions from other literary genres/countries. Some of it likely is just due to personal tastes; a genre can only stretch and shift so much before its connective bonds snap and the works within become something else, something other than works of a common genre. Perhaps my occasional sense of SF/F being in a state of stagnation is as much a personal preference as it is a condemnation of a perceived state of literary affairs, but maybe there are others who see this differently and see today’s SF/F as being more vibrant than before.
What do you consider the state (or states) of SF/F writing today as being?