Hmmm. It's been a while since I sat down at the official IROSF editorial typewriter. Let's see if I can remember how this thing works. Oh...that was the start button! I guess we're on the air!
Uh, let's just turn the metaphor mixing dial back down to zero. Great. That's better.
As I'm writing, on the other side of the continent WorldCon is going on. Wish I were there. But I expect many of our readers are, and I know a few of our editors are. I command you all to have an absolutely wonderful time! Make some friends! Make some deals! Make some news!
A common theme touched on by several articles in both current and recent issues of IROSF, and and also explored and debated in the forums, and which is probably a rich topic at WorldCon, is the health of the genre. Is Science Fiction dead? Healthier than ever? Corrupted or co-opted by popular culture? Is the rapid pace of technology making science fiction obsolete? Or more important than ever? Are fantasy series devoid of the beauty, mystery, and magic of yore? Why are ten-pound tomes of tedious world-building apparently the reader favorite? Is short fiction dead? Is the age of the fiction magazine over? Is short fiction simply a wading pool of wannabes play-acting their way into the profession in front of a readership composed entirely of other writers?
It's natural to ask these questions. I expect we've always asked these questions. There are no answers, yet.
Here at IROSF, we believe the conversation is the important thing. Sure, nobody wins these debates. At the end of the day, we have not solved the world's woes. Here's what does happen:
Those who do pay attention to what is really going on are often the ones who see the new opportunities, who create the next paradigm shift, who break ground in new directions. Editors, agents, authors, reviewers, academics, fans, readers: we're all in this together. In any conversation: at WorldCon, in some Internet forum, at the pub with old friends, someone might say, "You know, what I really want is—holy cow! That's the Next Big Thing!"
Charlie Stross once said (I heard him say it at a WorldCon) "New technologies rarely replace old ones. Most of the time, they coexist." Movies didn't replace books, television didn't replace movies, video games didn't replace television, the Internet didn't replace video games.
On the other hand, nothing lasts forever. As a software professional in this fast-paced digital age I've watched technologies come and go, languages scorned as old-fashioned mere months after they've been acclaimed the answer to everything, management philosophies explode into fashion and swiftly fade into obscurity. Today's kindle may be tomorrow's firewood. (Um, actually, please dispose of properly.)
But either way, there's a common thread: it's the people who explore what's wrong with the present while still excited about the possibilities of the future who end up turning everything on its ear. All of which sounds an awful lot like science fiction to me.
Another thread I've seen throughout recent issues is the remembrance of historical works in the genre, both the seminal and the obscure. Although this seems entirely at odds with the futurist mentality, in fact it's an important part of the same conversation! "How did we get here?" will always inform "What do we do now?"
All of which boils down to this.
I'm excited to bring to you another issue of IROSF. If we survive, it will be because we are facilitating the conversations that help define tomorrow: an open book onto the past, a microscope on the triumphs and the tragedies of the present, and, maybe, some precognitive visions of the future.
Uh-oh, the cat bumped the metaphor mixer again.