You’ve got all these smaller groups in the field that are no longer able to really talk to each other, so there’s less of a central conversation… You can’t just stick a rocketship on the cover of a book and expect it to sell. That’ll work for the Hard SF readership, but that’s not going to sell thousands of copies. In the 1960s there were only 150 or so books published each year, so it was really possible for a dedicated fan to read 50 to 100 of them. Now, Locus lists something like 2,500 books published in the genre annually. No one can read that much.
Futurismic is quite obviously ‘part of the problem’ here, if you care to see it as a problem (and if you concede that the ‘smaller groups can’t talk to each other’)… and I must confess that I don’t. Indeed, I’ve compared the fragmentation and expansion of sf to the proliferation of rock music subgenres many times before; it may not make things easy for publishers to make money (which is not a good thing) but it produces a panoply of diverse iterations from a basic cultural idea… which is great for the end user because it means that there’s more likely to be something that really flicks your switches (though it may be more difficult to discover than the latest big-name thriller).
If you read Futurismic, I presume you have an interest in what might be described as ‘non-classic’ sf – but do you think the proliferation of subgenres have weakened the core appeal of the genre, or have they just distributed it more widely through multiple cultural structures? [image by yours truly]