Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why IS fandom gray? (Part I)

Or more precisely, why is science fiction losing mind share among the young(er)? I have a theory. Several actually, but I'll limit this post to one.

To wit: Not all SF takes place off Earth -- only most of it. And for many, to travel off-Earth must seem like yesterday's future.

Those of us of a certain age (i.e., gray- and non-haired) grew up with the excitement of the space race. The progress was dizzying: suborbital flights, orbital flights, orbital rendezvous ... . From Sputnik to One Small Step in twelve years. Inspiring!

But for anyone thirty five or younger, the manned space program has been endless circling of the Earth. For far too long, the program has been the international space station -- where nothing, besides construction and repairs, ever happens -- punctuated by shuttle disasters.

Not so inspiring.

If SF is mostly in space, and space is mostly (a) boringly repetitive and (b) your father's notion of the future -- why would you read it?

Judging by the numbers, you wouldn't. And that's a damn shame.

The purpose of space exploration isn't to inspire SF -- but one of the best uses of SF is to inspire space exploration. Because when we stop exploring -- and Earth itself is rather well explored -- we lose something of what humanity has always been about.

Monday, August 25, 2008

So why am I here?

Why am I blogging? I mean, besides that everyone does?

I'm recently home from the 2008 Worldcon, this year's world science fiction convention. I saw old friends, networked, had fun -- and fretted about the state of the genre. Every Worldcon I attend seems smaller, and its attendees grayer. (Yes, I'm gray, too.)

I've read SF since, best guess, I was ten or eleven. Chances are I wouldn't have picked science as a career without the exposure -- and excitement, and sense of optimism -- SF imparted. I would have missed a lot. And I doubt I would have had a second career as a writer.

This blog is begun with the hope, however modestly, of giving back. Science and technology drive progress. They offer ways to tackle many of the world's ills (and yes, ways to create new ills). They satisfy the oh-so-human urge to explore.

So: I intend to post once or twice a week with thoughts about science, fiction, and science fiction. What's exciting. What's problematical. How SF as a genre helps or hurts science awareness.

(Will I mention my own books and stories? As examples, sure. My fiction, like this blog, deals with the things on my mind. But having said that, this isn't a commercial.)

That's why I'm here. It's time to post this and see who else is. Let's start a dialog!