Science Fiction Repair Shop: This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014-01-04 15:00:00 No comments

Some gloomy notes here about how digital distribution doesn't always translate into digital consumption.

Books, Just Like You Wanted -

“This generation will get to read the books they really, really like,” wrote A. Raja Hornstein of San Rafael, Calif. “Any thinkers who are unpopular or outside the box or, well, creative, won’t be read. The next generation will get to read the books written by the vapid, money-hungry writers of this generation who never read any creative works. In a few generations, there will be no new ideas, only popular ones. But there will be lots of new problems and nobody smart enough to solve them. Way to go!”

That sounds eerily like the problems I've cited with SF&F's development over the last few generations. Once it reached a kind of cultural critical mass, where it was not only on shelves but on small and big screens alike, it became easier for it to be written by people who had never read anything but that — or worse, whose primary exposure to it was through TV or the movies. (This isn't to say that TV or the movies can't do those things well, only that if you stop your research there, you won't get much of anywhere.)

I particularly liked how another reader wrote in with a quote from Joseph Brodsky:

... in cultural matters, it is not demand that creates supply, it is the other way around. You read Dante because he wrote ‘The Divine Comedy,’ not because you felt the need for him: you would not have been able to conjure either the man or the poem.

And if you flood the shelves with me-too, Volume 1 In The Whatever Saga projects, that's all you can ever expect to see in the future either. Variety on the shelves is not just for the sake of being pretentiously florid; it's so that people have a fighting chance of knowing about what other possibilities exist, and maybe learning from them.

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