Posts Tagged 'Death of Sci-Fi'

We’ve always tried to highlight the peripheral gems within the peripheral entertainment that is Sci-Fi. But what happens when that genre goes more mainstream than ever before?

Over the past few months we’ve called out the number of high production value films and TV shows that continue to emerge – most notably on Netflix. With Amazon’s recent signing of ‘Zoe’ by Drake Doremus and the serialisation of William Gibson’s The Peripheral, there seems to be no slowing down in futuristic interest. A backlash to this current glut is, however gaining momentum.

Ridley Scott has been critical of the genre in the past, citing a concern that visual output was becoming homogenised – backed up by a recent article in Esquire. Meanwhile, James Cameron has complained – rightly so in our books – about the sheer volume of super hero movies coming out of Hollywood. Admittedly, there has been opposition to these statements with a number of younger fans and critics highlighting an ‘old guard’ increasingly out of touch. But there’s also been some notable defence.

Perhaps this is all just a bi-product of the genre’s heritage. For every Samuel Delaney ‘Nova’ in your pantheon of great literary works, there was a plethora of forgettable pulp fiction currently languishing in charity shops across the world.

The argument falters, though, when considering the current two-fold crisis. First, the world has already become an imagined space where we all carry personal computers, have our elections hacked by technocrats and wonder at whether robots becoming domestic appliances is a good and useful thing. Secondly, the genre is now so mainstream that it’s struggling to generate new and engaging ideas in the glare of perpetual public scrutiny.

Hopefully, there’s enough innovation still happening on the outskirts – new thinking that just needs time to gain a foothold within the zeitgeist. Charlie Jane Anders believes so, and this site has already been advocating the interesting reinventions that have been happening within LGBT, Afrofuturism and the recent bloom of Chinese authors.

Regardless, saturation remains a bad thing. A negative reaction is coming, and we will see a drop off in popularity as production investment favours something with a better return. Sci-Fi though, has a proven track record of adaptation. The bug-eyed monsters fell away when the mind expanding ’60s and ’70s investigated inner space which in turn, dropped back to allow room for cyberspace. What all the creatives within whatever medium need to do, is follow the advice of Eames from Inception and not be, “afraid to dream a little bigger darling.”

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