SF Trends for 2013
Posted on January 3, 2013 Posted by John Scalzi 12 Comments
In the Guardian today, Damien Walter makes predictions for what he sees are big trends in science fiction for 2013, including the mainstreaming of SF, a new interest in space, and the emergence of serialization, of which The Human Division is held up as the prime example. Well, I’m not going to complain about that.
One minor caveat to the piece: THD is not exclusive to Kindle; it’s being served to as many e-retailers as we can get it to. Otherwise, it’s all good, and an interesting read.
Any further word on how the audiobook serialization is going to work? (Sorry to bang that drum all the time, that’s how I consume my Scalzi. Hm… that sounds weird, not banjo at all…)
Couldn’t help myself so I wrote an editor at Audible and he already got back to me, confirmed for public consumption: “Hi Sam – We’re going to be publishing THE HUMAN DIVISION to coincide with Tor’s e-book schedule – one chapter a week for 13 weeks, beginning Jan. 15. The pre-orders should be up soon, and you’ll be able to see all the chapters on one series page. William Dufris, who read previous books in the Old Man’s War series, is our narrator.”
Serialization: Independent writer Hugh Howey got some recognition last year by spinning short story Wool out into 4 subsequent novelettes that have now been repackaged as a full fledged novel: The Wool Omnibus. (Which is excellent, character-driven sci-fi, BTW.) Sets the stage for another kind of serialization, i.e. test the waters with a short story that can be expanded, then expand serially if there’s interest. This may be a more successful path for new authors who are trying the indie route.
Also worth noting that Stephen King tried independent serial e-book publishing many years ago (in 2000) with The Plant (which I read on my Palm V.) It was a successful experiment then (raising half-a-million dollars for the author), though never completed (to my regret at the time.) Which, of course, proved that you could self-publish a serial e-book and make money doing it if you’re Stephen King.
Hi. I’m looking forward to the serialization experiment, but I’m a little uncertain about the logistics of it. At the moment, it appears that (at least on Amazon) one has to purchase each episode individually. I know that my lazy self would prefer to just buy a “subscription”/”bundle”/whatnot for the series and have each new episode just delivered when it comes out. Do you know anything about what the intended distribution models are going to be?
If science fiction and fantasy are becoming integrated in the mainstream as Mr. Walter claims, why doesn’t the New York Times Book Review include a semi-monthly column dedicated to our favorite genres? The last time I saw such a column was in 2011 and even then that was a rare thing.
While I see crime and horror columns appear every now and then during the year in the Times Book Review, science fiction and fantasy tend not to make an appearance. Maybe a higher profile will inspire the Times to step up and make it happen.
I actually can see the serialization of fiction taking off this year. I recently started work for a startup publisher called Plympton; our aim is to produce episodic fiction so that we can reach readers who might not otherwise have time to fit a whole novel into their busy schedules. Our model borrows from sites like Daily Lit, which breaks up entire novels into daily email digests. And we’re also linked with Kindle Serials.
I hope The Human Division does well and I hope we start to see more authors going this route.
I’d be interested to see how the serialization thing works out. Twenty years ago when I subscribed to Analog, I used to wait until a serial was completed, then read all (usually 4) back-to-back. I hated waiting because I would forget details after 4 weeks and sometimes the summaries revealed a spoiler. My prejudice against serials remains to this day, which is why I’m delaying my purchase of Human Division until May when I can get all at once.
My first introduction to SF was a Heinlein serial in Boy’s Life. Many a long year ago. And, if you think about it, any good trilogy is a serial
The serialization angle is interesting because I’ve been thinking of serializing the novel-in-progress once it’s finished. Knowing there’s actual interest in this is adds a few points in the pro column for doing so. (The alternative is the traditional route of Agent>Publisher, and impatient me doesn’t like the idea of waiting 2-3 years for people to read this book.)
Ugh, another piece claiming an inherent good in diversity.
“including the mainstreaming of SF”
*sigh* There goes the neighborhood. As if the new “paranormal” influx was not bad enough.
Margaret Atwood is currently doing a serial novel too (haven’t read it). I’m hesitant about serial novels – I am an impatient person and want all the content at once. But I’m getting used to it in an audiobook serial I am listening to, so I think it will be a matter of managing my own expectations.