So, after thinking about my last post on education, I’ve come to some conclusions. I’ve been reading less and less science fiction lately, and I haven’t been able to figure out why. But now I think I know. It’s because I’ve been seeing a lot of the same things recently. Here’s a list of recent sub-genres I’ve become disillusioned with lately, and some ideas I think could infuse them with new life:
1. Space Opera–Don’t get me wrong, I love this sub-genre, but we’ve been harping on post-humanism and alien combat quite a lot lately. How about we try something new? Like some new thoughts on STL travel, or Near-Earth Space exploration.
2. Near-future SF–Love this genre as well. (Futurismic, here’s to you!) But we’ve been seeing a lot of the same thing, lately. Nano-tech, cyberpunk, bio-punk. I’d love to see some more stories on information technology pre-singularity. VR’s been a common theme, but very few books out there seem to be addressing Augmented Reality(AR), which–for those who don’t know–is the mapping of virtual information, such as audio and video, onto the real world. The more well-known application here is the good old “heads-up display”, or HUD, in use in targeting systems and mapping. Stories about AR that come to mind: Dennou Coil, Rainbows End, Eden of the East. There’s a lot of potential in this technology, and a lot of conflict that it could create. Virtual ads in fields, or modern digital graffiti are two. And think of the networking and social media applications.
3. Science fantasy: There’s been a rise in this genre lately, which I have greatly enjoyed. Some examples are anime’s Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou, which postulates a modern form of magic created with digital information instead of personal energy and ancient symbolism. A great deal of steam-punk also falls into this category, although it’s generally not as modern as the normal idea of the genre. Of course, I’m somewhat misrepresenting this term to describe a combination of scientific and fantastical elements. I’m not really refering to just planetary romance or dying earth scenarios, as much as contemporary or near-future fantasy outside of the UF genre. We might also include some space opera works in the category. Anime provides the example of Heroic Age, while C.S. Friedman has given us the Coldfire Trilogy.
4. Let’s also throw in alternate universe science fiction here. Earth-like worlds with different cultural and geographical settings that nevertheless approximate our present level of technology. I’m hard-pressed to come up with an example of this grouping that doesn’t involve alternate dimensions or the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. I’m not talking multiverses or dimension-hoppers here. I’m thinking of entirely independent worlds. Which makes me want to read this sort of story even more. Perhaps Jeff Vandermeer’s Finch could be an example book, although that veers closer to Science Fantasy/New Weird than I’m trying to go.
5. Oh, and let’s not forget the Chimney-punk. This isn’t a recognized genre yet, but I’m hard at work behind the scenes, spreading awareness(lol) and writing material. New Weird isn’t the only interstitial genre out there–at least, not for long.
Anyway, those are a few genres I’d really love to see some new material in. Does anyone have particular areas of their own that they find interesting but under-populated?