Science Fiction is Dead. What’s Next?

Death of Science FictionIn the beginning, life was hard. We needed escape and therefore we wrote:

Escapism

As fiction evolved, we added human symbolism to our escapism and we wrote:

Escapism with Allegory

Escapism helped to “take us away” and allegory helped us learn something while we were there. This felt necessary. It felt sufficient. But, life was inclined to change. Times got tough. We reverted back. Again, we just wanted our:

Escapism

At this point, some writers thought all was lost, but times changed. Science appeared. Predictions were in order. And the results of some of those predictions were far off and majestic—like a sunset. Hence the Golden Age of science fiction. Hence:

Escapism with Allegory and Prediction

We liked our predictions. Most of them were rosy and unlikely and, at times, elitist—however, they were decent guesses. We made a lot of guesses, actually; so many, as it turned out, that it became hard to make original guesses to fuel our fiction. Meanwhile, the rate of technological advances continued to increase at an astounding clip—so much so, that life became confusing; confusing enough to revert all our writings back again to:

Escapism

This was not good. Never in human history was fiction needed so dearly nor was the competition for people’s entertainment so fierce. There was this new kid on the block, Video Games, and, well, quite frankly, what was needed was a new kind of fiction, altogether.

And yet predictions about the future were no longer practical nor were they necessary since the light-speed, fiberoptic pace of the present was already much too complex for anyone to grasp. What was needed was:

Escapism with Allegory and Techno-Allegory

Techno-allegory? We wondered if symbolism should be employed to describe the current state of technology? Should science fiction give way to the new paradigm of science now? Writers were nervous about dedicating short stories or even whole novels to current technologies. What if the writings came out and the technology they wrote about was obsolete? Better to continue writing about the past.

But people didn’t care about the past anymore! They wanted news! They wanted information! Nonfiction was eating fiction’s lunch!

Then came the ebook. It became a lot easier to publish stories quickly and write about rapidly changing technologies. Things were beginning to look up again for readers…

Death of Science Fiction - essay

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About davidwallacefleming

David Wallace Fleming is a U.S. writer, living in Austin, Texas. He is the author of the coming-of-age, social media novel GROWING UP WIRED, and the satirical science fiction audiobook, NOT FROM CONCENTRATE.
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14 Responses to Science Fiction is Dead. What’s Next?

  1. Linda Vernon says:

    “Nonfiction was eating fiction’s lunch” HA!

    Nicely skewered!

  2. Auntie RV says:

    I some times live in La-la land, so technically, your fiction is my nonfiction. Ha ha! Truly, I wouldn’t worry too much about science fiction being dead; as long as there is imagination, someone will write/produce the next science fiction story, like Dr. Who, the Jetsons or etc.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting…much appreciated.

  3. Mason says:

    Enlightened premise which makes one more aware of what is being read and written.
    May imagination continue to reign. Enjoyed reading your thought on the subject.

  4. Linn says:

    You, sir, are pure awesome. In one concise post, you made literature history seem interesting – something our lecturers at times have trouble with.

    I laughed reading it, and you certainly made my day.

    -Linn

  5. S. Prashaw says:

    Spec-fic-sci-fi has become harder, indeed, but sci-fi really is becoming a backdrop for poli-sci-fic and other’s… the science is becoming a driver and not the flashy and nearly distracting point because we have entered a state where imagination is easily represented through visual technology… now when New Speak comes then language will have to re-develop ways to describe technology and ‘new’ imagination will take over. Until then, ummm, we’ll have to deal with characters and plot instead of ‘wow’ machines. Being a geek and a ‘word nerd’ I think I’m going to quite enjoy this :)

    • Your anticipation of ‘new’ imagination sounds interesting.

      • Anonymous says:

        New to them and mundane for us… The ideas and ways of the past being magic in a future full of technology that is magicto us now… And something about any sufficiently advanced technology is easily considered magic comes to mind, but I think its less about its level of advancement and more about its level of unfamiliarity

  6. I have fought battles with teachers who say that children need to read ‘proper fiction’ not science fiction. I always maintain that we need science fiction to allow us to explore beyond the confines of our present physical boundaries, and to encourage us to think beyond what we have now. Isn’t any kind of fantasy some kind of science fiction. Ray Bradbury was always classified as science fiction when I would call him pure fiction a lot of the time. And what about J B Priestly? Or H G Wells? They also fit both categories.

    All fiction is to some extent fantasy in that it is created stories. There is so much that we do not know, that could be possible.

    • S. Prashaw says:

      And in my experience lots of ‘proper’ fiction is in it’s own way bizarre… “Alice in Wonderland’ is a treatise by a stodgy mathematician on non-Euclidean geometry, Shakespeare was the trashy soaps of the day, the ancient myths are similar to sci-fi but use gods and divinity and magic instead of science… even some of our most timeless pieces of children’s literature have a ridiculous background. Dr. Seuss wrote books on bets and Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” to pay the bills. At least sci-fi has the decency to say what it is and be what it is… fiction with science, And really, any well written work, nearly regardless of content, is something more than most works are. Character development, atmosphere, plot, and grammar are the most important parts of a story. I think people just see sci-fi as ‘thrown together and hack-y’… they just haven’t read enough well written sci-fi yet… or they are elitist, in which case I can’t help them. (I’ll stop now or I’ll get on my ‘why Shakespeare isn’t the greatest writer to ever live (and possibly not even the greatest writer he ever met though I can’t prove that at all) ‘ rant)

    • I agree with your last point. It seems that much of fiction seems to tread over the same worn out terrain.

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