Tis the season to be morbid and gruesome… and I needed to look no further than Gardner Dozois’s ‘Best New SF’ series, well at least the ones I could easily lay my paws on.
In that venerable and ancient year of 1998, there were 242 new science fiction novels published. Last year produced 305. Hoorah! What a treat! The number has gone up by 26%.
In that venerable and ancient year of 1998, there were 233 new fantasy novels published, about the same number as science fiction novels give or take. Last year produced 660, and increase of 183%. What a nasty trick to play on you, leading you up the garden path like that! Oh horror of horrors… talking of horror…
In that ancient and venerable year of 1998, there were 110 new horror novels published. Oh that is a treat, over twice as many science fiction novels were published. Last year produced 229 horror novels, an increase of 108%. Oh what another nasty little trick to play on you!
What we have here is that both fantasy and horror have increased their new novel numbers since 1998 at a far greater rate than science fiction. Instead of having one new fantasy novel for every science fiction novel, we now have nearly three fantasy novels. Instead of having round about two science fiction novels for every horror novel, we are now getting less than three science fiction novels for every two horror stories. In fact there have been a couple of intervening years when new horror novels have outnumbered science fiction novels as the graph below shows.
Could new science fiction novels failing to keep pace with new novels in the sister genres be something to do with the idea that science fiction is dying that has been doing the rounds these past few years?
Oh doom and gloom….