Science Fiction not particularly labeled or recognized as Science Fiction

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  • #202875
    Michael E. Walston
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    Hunger Games. A Trilogy. Set in A dystopian future.

    The Maze. Seems to be a series–there’s a sequel out already. Also set in a dystopian future.

    Divergent. Yet another YA dystopian series. Is this a trend?

    None of these books, to the best of my knowledge (I could be wrong but I don’t think so), have attracted much notice from established SF fandom. Even though they’ve all sold well and had movies made of them, none were nominated for Hugos or Nebulas, were they?

    Ah, well, there’s precedent. 1984 and Brave New World were also ignored by the SF community.

    I only noticed them at all because they appeared in the book racks at my local grocery store (we used to have an actual bookstore at the mall in my little NC town but it closed).

    There was a time when Heinlein, Herbert, McCaffery, and Clarke were shelved alongside NY best sellers, but that was 30 years ago.

    Then they were shoved aside by Star Wars and Star Trek books but that situation is also long past.

    Now there’s this new crop of well received SF, but it doesn’t seem to have been noticed by the old guard SF Community.

    The latest example is The Martian, about an astronaut who gets mistaken for dead and left behind on Mars. It’s the sort of thing Arthur C. Clarke did early in his career. It’s actually a pretty good yarn.

    Seems to be a novelization of a movie.

    So it seems there is still a (you should pardon the expression) hunger for this sort of stuff.

    But the old guard SF community remains clueless, am I right?

    The best known SF writers today are maybe Bojold, Sawyer, Gibson, and Scalzi, but I don’t expect to see any of their books at my corner grocery any time soon.

    I also feel compelled to mention the magazine racks there are bigger than the book racks–but no Analog, Asimov’s, or F&SF to be found. That’s just sad.

    Magazines about guns, trucks, and cooking, though, those are abundant.

    #242632
    Ashe Elton Parker
    Moderator
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    I think the main difference in the books you first mentioned (Hunger Games, and The Maze, and Divergent) is that they were marketed differently. From what I remember of HG, it was specifically marketed as a YA read (I could be wrong, but that’s what I remember), not as SF. I think the same was true for Divergent (though I could be wrong on that too). Not sure about The Maze, but I’d be willing to bet it wasn’t marketed as SF either.

    It really depends these days on how the publisher wants to market the work (and these are all Trad/Legacy Pubbed, right?). The publishers thought these books/series would all sell better as YA or some variety thereof, so that was how they labeled and marketed them. I’m not really surprised that as a result they were “lost” to the SF awards/fandom, because the publishers wouldn’t think to submit the works to those where publishers have say, and a lot of readers of SF aren’t going to delve into YA fare unless it’s also clearly labeled as SF, which these apparently weren’t. Plus, I think a lot of SF readers are looking for more optimistic stories than these sound like.

    But those are just my theories, and I could be quite wrong on any or all aspects of it.

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #242633
    ErinMH
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    No, The Martian came out as a book first, and in fact, I think Andy Weir serialized it on his blog before he ever got a book deal for it. Anyway, when it was nominated for a Nebula, it was no longer eligible because its first publication was 2013, not 2014, so it was removed from the list.

    By the way, did you mean The Maze Runner by James Dashner? I don’t know of one called just The Maze. If so, as Ashe said, your first crop of examples are all YA, which didn’t traditionally segregate itself by genre (although B&N has now taken to separating out teen fantasy from just teen), so no, it wasn’t marketed as SF. On the other hand, I remember my Twitter feed going crazy with all the SF/F people who were waiting for the conclusion of The Hunger Games years ago, writers who said they’d stayed up all night reading it or who blew off their own writing for a couple days to get through the books, fans who linked separately to reviews with and without spoilers, and on and on. Which means I don’t agree with your conclusion that “established SF fandom” is ignoring these books. Were they nominated for Hugos? No, but there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of books every year that are good reads but that aren’t nominated. I don’t think that’s a good metric for whether people have noticed them.

    #242640
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    Good points re the awards, Erin. And I agree. Awards aren’t a good criteria for determining whether or not any particular book has been noticed, just for the fact there are so many books being published these days.

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #242634
    Weird Jim
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    I think you must pretty well go online and download those three mags. That being so, there’s no call for them off the racks. No store is going to give space to anything that does not sell. If you still had your bookshop, you could probably order copies.
    Dystopias are being overdone, besides the “Old Guard” had their fill of them with nuclear winter tales. Now, of course, it’s Global Warming

    https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/

    #242635
    MarFisk
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    It really depends on your neighborhood. Last I looked, Barnes & Noble carried the top four or five SF/F mags (but that was a while ago since Realms of Fantasy was still being published. Both Divergent and Hunger Games titles have been at my local grocery store. I’d have to check what SF/F they have now, but there’s usually a handful of the more popular adult and YA titles there.

    As to the SF community recognizing YA SF titles, absolutely. They’re common topics at BayCon, the SF con I go to each year, and the May the odds be ever in your favor is being horrible misused there (as a good thing :p) as much as it has permeated the broader community since the movies came out.

    Now, one difference you might see is that a lot of the loudest voices in SF are determined to believe everything post Golden Age is derivative and worthless (based on discussions with them at cons) so dismiss out of hand without reading much of what comes out nowadays.

    And another issue is that fandom as a concept is changing. It used to be there were very few places where those discussions could occur where now the YA and children’s SF/F is all over the place and the discussions occur wherever people hang out (as with Erin’s Twitter comment). I know at least in the Bay Area there are real efforts to pull in the younger crowd because some of the mainstays of SF/F fandom are fading with the times. I mean, you can see that best in the conversion of comiccon from a place to buy, sell, trade your comic collections as the main focus with costuming coming in a close second to a media extravaganza where companies tout their games, movies, and tv shows to a largely passive audience (as opposed to active discussions with the members of the con).

    I’m not saying it’s a bad or good thing. I’m just saying what I’ve observed and heard from the con organizers. It’s one of the reasons BayCon added a special guest category for a YA guest so they could draw in the new crowd without turning aside the usual one by converting the whole con to YA focus.

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

    #242658
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    That’s an aspect I didn’t consider. I don’t go to Cons any more, so I don’t know what’s being discussed by attendees and what different Con boards/organizations are doing to accomodate the newer YA Sf.

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #242641
    Michael E. Walston
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    • Topics - 38
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    ErinMH wrote:
    I remember my Twitter feed going crazy with all the SF/F people who were waiting for the conclusion of The Hunger Games years ago, writers who said they’d stayed up all night reading it or who blew off their own writing for a couple days to get through the books, fans who linked separately to reviews with and without spoilers, and on and on. Which means I don’t agree with your conclusion that “established SF fandom” is ignoring these books.

    Fair enough, but I still maintain that publishers didn’t market these books to fandom–fandom discovered them independently. :)

    #242659
    Michael E. Walston
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    • Topics - 38
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    MarFisk wrote:
    Now, one difference you might see is that a lot of the loudest voices in SF are determined to believe everything post Golden Age is derivative and worthless (based on discussions with them at cons) so dismiss out of hand without reading much of what comes out nowadays.

    Cuts both ways, I think. Fans/publishers of these books may be dismissive of old school SF Fandom. I find that sad. :(

    Ageism is probably a factor. In both directions.

    #242638
    Michael E. Walston
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    • Topics - 38
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    Good points, Ashe.

    Still, there was a time when YA SF was celebrated by fandom.

    Heinlein, Norton and L’Engle, anyone?

    #242642
    Michael E. Walston
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    • Topics - 38
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    ErinMH wrote:
    No, The Martian came out as a book first, and in fact, I think Andy Weir serialized it on his blog before he ever got a book deal for it.

    Thank you, that is very interesting. :)

    #242636
    Weird Jim
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    • Topics - 131
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    Michael E. Walston wrote:
    1984 and Brave New World were also ignored by the SF community.

    There was a time when Heinlein…. Then they were shoved aside by Star Wars and Star Trek books but that situation is also long past.

    I think you’ll find that 1984 and Brave New World were rebirths then in a new era stimulated by the Hippy movement. Heinlein, I think, had had his heyday long before Star Wars (which I see as children’s fiction and not attached to any movement.) However, it — Star Wars — became fodder for a certain group starved for space opera.
    My favorite movie, considering techniques available, has to be THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME.

    My Golden Age stretched from about 1950 to about 1962 when content in magazines deteriorated.

    One of the things I found strange when I first found FM was that some people had partitioned speculative fiction and wouldn’t consider writing that was outside their genre.

    #242669
    MarFisk
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    Certainly possible. US society trains the citizens in the concept of cliques early on and they do develop wherever you go. The one defining characteristic? You are not one of us :p.

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

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