Okay, Sure, It’s My Fault Science Fiction is the Way It Is Right Now
The dimwitted bigot brigade finally came across my piece about the Science Fiction canon from a couple of weeks ago and had a predictable spasm about it, asserting how it was evidence that (I’m paraphrasing from various sources, here) a) science fiction and fantasy was dying, b) traditional publishing (the sf/f parts of it anyway) is dying too, c) I’m responsible in some measure for a) and b), despite d) the fact that apparently I don’t actually sell and/or only sell through byzantine sleight of hand by the publishing industry for reasons and also e) I suck, f) which is why I don’t want people to read older works because then they would realize that, and while we’re at it g) modern sf/f is infested with terrible work from people who aren’t straight white dudes, h) which I, a straight white dude, am also somehow responsible for, and so in short, i) everything is my fault, and j) I am simultaneously a nobody and also history’s worst monster.
It’s a lot! I think it must be tiring to be a dimwitted bigot, thinking about me.
In fact it’s been a pretty solid year so far for traditionally-published science fiction and fantasy. in terms of sales. This is reflected in the New York Times bestseller lists, which so far this year have included SF/F books by Tamsyn Muir, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Lindsay Ellis, Jim Butcher, Hank Green, Kim Harrison, Max Brooks, Martha Wells, NK Jemisin, William Gibson, Rae Carson, Sarah J. Maas and me, among others, with other likely bestsellers from VE Schwab, Christopher Paolini and Ernie Cline (again, among others) still to come. And of course there is lots of other work that has not hit the lists but which is selling juuuust fine, thank you for asking. If you want contemporary traditionally-published science fiction and fantasy to be dead, or at least dying, you need to stab it harder, friends. It keeps living.
(Perhaps all of these authors are getting the same deal I am, where in fact I don’t sell actual books and yet still get on bestseller lists and make money. If so it’s a cool scam, and I applaud them all for swinging it too.)
Even from just the bestseller lists, this is a pretty vibrant and diverse scene, with lots of very excellent writers telling fantastic stories coming from a whole lot of different places and viewpoints. So if someone wants to suggest I am somehow responsible for it in some way, my thought on that is: Hell yeah, sure, I will totally take the credit. I am not in reality in any way responsible for it, to be clear — the scope of my influence on the genre at the moment is limited to my own books, and perhaps in a very tiny way, to the books I’ve blurbed. But otherwise, nope: That’s on the writers, and also the editors and publishers who have acquired their works. But if you are ridiculous enough to say that these awesome writers and books are somehow my fault: Well, okay! It’s absolutely unearned on my part! But if you insist.
I think it belies a certain poverty of intellect, knowledge, and, well, taste, to suggest the current state of science fiction and fantasy is somehow dire, but, you know. Dimwitted bigots gonna dimwit bigot. They have to continue to convince themselves that they are somehow the only true inheritors of the genre, despite all obvious evidence that the genre has well and truly branched, and that a number of people are rather successfully working in it and building it forward without reference to how these dimwit bigots insist the genre should be, and who should be allowed to work in it.
As for the very silly idea that I don’t think people should read older works in the genre: Nah, my dude. Read them if you want! Enjoy them if you can! Learn from them if there’s something there that strikes you as useful. An assertion that the concept of “canon” in the genre is a dead issue in a practical sense is neither a blanket prohibition nor condemnation of work that’s come before. If you want to think that’s what I said, I mean, I’m not gonna stop you from thinking that? But maybe work harder at reading better moving forward. I would not stop anyone from doing something I had so obviously benefitted from myself, which is, reading previous authors in the genre, and learning from them, on my own terms.
(Also, if you think I’m worried about my work being compared to that of earlier writers in the genre, well, how to put this, I’m really not. Compare away.)
To sum up: Dimwitted bigots are ridiculous; I’m not responsible for the current state of SF/F, but inasmuch as the current state of SF/F is awesome, if you’re gonna give me credit, sure, I will take it; and also, read what you want from past writers in the genre, there’s great stuff, just don’t get all fetishy about it, that’s a little much.
That’s it! We’re done! Have a great day, everybody!