Is a divide opening up between US and UK Science Fiction?

Masters of Science Fiction
Masters of Science Fiction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did any of you people notice something strange (as in weird, bizarre, crazy) happen this weekend at the BSFA convention and Hugo awards?

First off, Ian Sales won the best BSFA short story award with his self-published (yes SELF-PUBLISHED, even if he put the name of his own publishing house on it) Adrift on a Sea of Rains. Yes, I know he goes round the cons and has done a good job on publicity, but it beat the Interzone short stories, once the staple of BSFA short story awards. And what’s more it’s hard science fiction…at least it is if you believe in parallel universes. Wow! What a turn up for the books, SELF-PUBLISHED HARD SCIENCE FICTION winning an award.

BSFA of course is awards by popular vote… are the readers telling the publishing world they want their hard science fiction back on the shelves in bookstores? Are they saying no more of the more traditional stories we have seen? Don’t forget it beat stories that were biased more towards fantasy…

And yet on the other side of the pond (slang for the Atlantic Ocean), David Brin’s Existence turned into a no-show for the ballot paper. Yes, 2312 got onto it, but I’ve already made my opinion clear on the science in some parts of that novel… groan… is there more than the pond that separates the US and UK science fiction communities?

I can think of one contributory reason for this… Skylon and the Olympic ceremonies showed science at its best, progressive, making life better and more interesting… there’s also the story that Terry Pratchett found the most advanced treatment for his Parkinson’s disease (much sympathies to him) not in the US, but in the UK. Is the UK suddenly leading the US in making things better through science development… this kind of thing would spill over into science fiction… it’s only natural… and is the revolution in science fiction being led by the UK?

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2 thoughts on “Is a divide opening up between US and UK Science Fiction?

  1. Without intending in ANY way to denigrate or offend my Americanoid friends, there is a vast, long-standing difference in the make-up of the cultures and values of society twixt here and there. It’s early in the morning, I haven’t fully engaged the frozen chicken that I have in place of a brain and this comment is utterly incomplete but … religion and material wealth are two values that wobble on top of the “Difference Pile” and I reckon these have an enormous effect on the direction society takes.

    Religion in England – in sharp contrast to the government PR nonsense of “multiculturalism” – extends about as far as a cup of tea with the Vicar. In the USA it’s all-pervasive, from ;In God we trust’ on the money to the Westboro Baptists.

    Wealth in England is traditionally not the wealth of the USA – Essex bling occasionally drives out of Essex in white Audi A8s but in the rest of the country you are still expected to show a little more taste. In the USA – at least to an outsider – the acquisition of wealth and its display is a much less apologetic thing.

    I wonder, inconclusively, whether science in the USA is blown by the winds of the dollar towards the shores of a beach-front condo, whereas in England science is battered by the gales of the £pound but is still more concerned with whether or not we might crack the Enigma code for the good of all concerned. In my caffeine-reduced state of partial consciousness I point to Englands consistent failure to capitalise in any and all senses of the word upon her inventions as some kind of evidence.

    Other than that – dunno! It’s all generalisations and unfounded guaesswork.

  2. Hm… inventions in the UK do make into production, but it’s only when a person has to drive to make it so. Dyson is a good example.

    When you consider British authors from Mary Shelley onwards… H.G. Wells, George Orwell, John Wyndham, Arthur C Clarke, Michael Moorcock, Pat Cardigan, Stephen Baxter, Alastair Reynolds… and interesting pattern starts to emerge… hm…

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