January 22, 2017

Slice of PIE: Somewhere Between Paradise and Hell-On-Earth…The NEXT Big Thing

Using the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City in August 2016 (to which I was invited and had a friend pay my membership! [Thanks, Paul!] but was unable to go (until I retire from education)), I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. This is event #2312. The link is provided below…

Many stories are set in either grand interstellar deep space futures or a trapped-on-Earth dystopias. We discuss the “middle future” in SF written today and yesterday, and where it falls on the Utopia/Dystopia spectrum.

Jack Campbell Jr. (aka John G. Hemry) – the LOST FLEET series, also science fiction short stories in ANALOG for a long time!
Thomas K. Carpenter – lots of books, some appear darker than others…
Sarah Frost – Among other things, an ANALOG writer.
Mr. Peadar O Guilin – several YA novels under his belt.
Tamara Jones – published in many genres
John Joseph Adams – renowned editor…of practically everything…

I’m reading a series right now that is about a grand interstellar deep space future…that fell apart, the second to last book of Julie Czerneda’s CLAN CHRONICLES.

David Brin once wrote of a grand interstellar deep space future…in which Humans became hunted heretics and fought against each other – most likely for religious reasons. Humans remained the ONLY rational beings in this future.

The first book in my own YA series, HEIRS OF THE SHATTERED SPHERES is a grand interplanetary future that has a nasty glitch in it: where once the Solar system was home to an aggressive species whose home was Venus, that civilization has been destroyed…though an AI doesn’t realize that Humans are not the descendants of those aliens.

Others that come to mind are myriad, but the YA genre seems to be churning out dystopian lit still, there are hints that it might be turning away from the darkness and “into the light”. While these are not by any means “utopian”, they are a far cry from the teen-slaughtering dystopias of recent memory: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/teen/13-of-our-most-anticipated-science-fiction-yas-of-2016/

In my brief overview of coming YA SF&F, I only found one real dystopian/hopeless/teen slaughter novel and the blurb seemed more of a rehash of what’s already been done.

Does this mean we’re done with dystopias? Probably not. Most likely the vein has been played out…but that means that there may well be pockets of truly marvelous work. Very few people would have thought that there was anything left in the “wizarding school” vein that hadn't been mined to extinction. Then JK Rowling hit something no one – NOT “had never done before” – had mined in that peculiar way and polished up to that peculiar shine.

You already know from following me, that I loved the works of Robert A Heinlein, Andre Norton, and Alan Nourse. They were wonder-full for their time and their books have remained in print for half-a-century.

There is no doubt that Rowling’s books will remain extant as they drift into history to become true classics.

But upon whom will the mantel of SCIENCE fiction writer for the young fall? There are some hints – Marissa Meyer? Suzanne Collins? Will McIntosh? Paolo Bacigalupi? Who knows.

This person has to both discover an idea that has old roots – and make it relevant to young people today. What could that be? Mythology (maybe a non-Greek/Celtic/Roman/Western one?) add that to a futuristic form of communication (YAs are nothing without their cellphones!) Maybe mythology is TOO ancient. How about leaving Earth – not in a negative way, lots of people have tried that; and “climate change” trope seems too…I don’t know…trendy for your average teen. Trendy in a negative way; like adults keep saying, “You must save the planet! You must save the planet!”

I can just hear one of the kids in my school muttering, “You wrecked it. YOU save it.”

Nah, it’s got to be something that grabs them. Music maybe? Grab them the way the Beatles grabbed the Baby Boomers, and the way no group or band has grabbed today’s teens – (I checked and there are a LOT of possible names for the generation born after 2000. I’m gonna go with “Tweeters”). So what would a break away book be like for the Tweeters? Music and communication? Maybe an operatic voice for the 21st century? Maybe singing aliens?

Any thoughts?

Image: http://www.newslang.ie/images/uploads/phone.jpg

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