I’m not a young man, at least not in comparison to most of my friends in the world of genre fiction. I think Maggie Jamison is fourteen. That being said I rely on the youngens; their blogs, their fiction, to enlighten me on what the kids are into these days. There was a time, a couple of generations ago, when science fiction, fantasy and horror were kids genres. Heinlein published many of his early works in magazines geared toward teenage boys. Luckily the subject matters of science fiction grew up as the genre did. The cold war did a lot for that. Horror lurched forward with the help of geniuses like Bill Gaines (of Mad Magazine fame) and his “Tales from the Crypt,” for which he was hauled in front of a congressional committee to answer for the very Socratic charges of corrupting the youth. In my opinion Fantasy did not grow up until George R.R. Martin put pen to paper with his epic “Song of Ice and Fire” series. So now we’re all grown up. They teach classes about science fiction at most public colleges. The genre has never moved faster and because of that it’s getting tougher to stay on top of things- trends, innovations, what have you. One of the best ways to keep abreast of how the genre(s) is/are moving, is to develop friendships with other writers. See what they are reading and writing, and let that inform your artistic choices.
Reading is still your best friend for all the reasons I have mentioned before, but contact with other people working in your genre is a really good idea. You cannot overestimate the value of “cross-pollination.” I wrote a story after a lengthy e-talk with Peter M. Ball and that story has made final reading at a pro-level magazine the first time I submitted it. We talked about “atmosphere” and I grew as a writer because of it. I am reading Scott W. Baker stories right now because he has a dachshund and writes sci-fi and that seems pretty cool. I’ll let you know what I get out of it. Find people you like. Talk to them… unless it’s Rudy Rucker, that guys a total snob and he can’t go three sentences without telling you he’s descended from Hegel. I got news for you Ruckster- call me when you’re descended from a real philosopher- like Jim Morrison, the philosopher/poet/warlord king of all awesomeness. Yeah bitch. Keep your friends close, and your dachshund closer.
The Science of Fiction
Andrew Clark Porter