Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Spring, Summer, Winter

with 3 comments

Most so-called contemporary novels are freighted with nostalgia. Perhaps one reason for either loving or shunning science fiction is that it is relatively free of the poisons of forever looking back. It looks to the future, even when it looks with foreboding.

Brian Aldiss, 1996, preface to Helliconia.

…it is more as though the genres of the fantastic themselves have reached a state of exhaustion. In the main, there is no sense that the writers have any real conviction about what they are doing. Rather, the genre has become a set of tropes to be repeated and repeated until all meaning has been drained from them… The problem may be, I think, that science fiction has lost confidence in the future. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it has lost confidence that the future can be comprehended.

Paul Kincaid, 2012, review of 2012 best of the year anthologies.

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Written by Martin

15 September 2012 at 08:19

3 Responses

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  1. I like the formulation “lost confidence in the future” better than the talk of nostalgia, exhaustion and the draining of meaning, especially because it seems to apply to fantasy as well. Fantasy, I would argue, has gotten progressively less nostalgic, because it has lost confidence in the past.

    Matt Hilliard

    15 September 2012 at 12:45

  2. Very interesting. I´ve been reading Kincaid´s article. Funny (or not) than when I was returning (after quite a few years) to my preferred readings and genre, I´ve come to discover that it may be in crisis. Or maybe it´s just me, and I am a kind of a difficult reader, but, as I say, getting “in touch” again with the genre, going through Hugo or Nebula nominees and winners (perhaps it wasn´t the way to go; no, wait; it definitely wasn´t ), has been quite dissapointing. The problem becomes bigger for countries like mine, Spain, where the readers who might be interested in this kind of fiction find that our book publishers decide, based on those renowned awards, what is the supposed good science fiction and what is not. At least, we have (those who can read English, that is) online magazines to find lost or less known jewels. But it is a shame, anyway, cause I foresee that future spanish authors will inspire themselves only on what is in the market, so the works they may produce will have no preoccupation for pushing boundaries in the genre, quality writing or originality (accepting this is kind of a tricky demmand).

    Lucky, I read this blog, or Nussbaum´s or places like Strange Horizons. Thank you. From the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, some of us appreciate a lot what you are trying to do.

    Fernando Hugo

    15 September 2012 at 22:58

  3. More likely that the future (and the nature of reality) has become all-too comprehensible, making increasingly difficult for the speculative SF writer to be …errm ..speculative.

    Aonghus Fallon

    16 September 2012 at 18:47


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