A Bit of a Generation Gap

It’s NaNo time ago, and I’m almost half-way through. I’m on pace with my word count, and things are looking positive.

While on the forums, I came across a particularly interesting thread regarding steampunk – which is coincidental considering Paul’s most recent post. I came to realize that there is a significant difference in my particular mindset on the way in which genre works and the mindset of those who are writing what they deem to be genre. I don’t think it’s necessarily a difference of one’s definition of genre, but a difference in the generation gap that lies between us. To me, such things as steampunk, cyberpunk, and even space opera are things born out of ideology: there was a reactionary, responsive feel to the works that originated these particularly specific sub-genres of speculative fiction. All of that seems to be lost, and there are other who agree (read Jeff and Ann Vandermeer’s anthology Steampunk, which has a foreword by Jess Nevins).

Once you’ve been in the industry as a writer or editor for any length of time, you begin to understand that the industry is both fickle and evolving. Some of it is to preserve the species, and some of it is to appease the public. What I notice in the change of ideology, however, is that it isn’t so much about either of these things as it is a matter of how the writers themselves, begin to become removed of the ideology and more interested in the trappings and the appearance.

What, then, is the ideology of today? What is the theme, the motif, that runs through speculative fiction that very well could produce a new sub-genre in the vein of these greats? Is it New Weird in the style of China Meiville? Is it Mundane SF after Geoff Ryman’s vision? Or is there some beast yet to rise that we haven’t quite caught a glimpse of?

One thought on “A Bit of a Generation Gap”

  1. Well, one example that gets bandied about a lot is the Singularitarian ideology and fictional milieu. Not that it’s new (just about every Vernor Vinge story is about it), but it has a lot of prominence right now.

    Or, if you think that “steampunk” and “space opera” are past, what do you think about the best-of-breed examples of those classes? Do you think the Difference Engine is antique now? (I mean, more antique?)

    Scratch that, here’s the better question: hasn’t there been a big surge of space opera, over the past say decade or so? The Vinge novels from the ’90s, Iain Banks over the last 20 years, Ken MacLeod? What is the ideology of the “new” space opera?

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