As 2013, with its celebration of Dr Who’s 50th anniversary festivities draw to a close, thoughts naturally turn to what 2014 will bring.
The big event in the UK is of course Loncon3 in August. I saw the latest numbers of people attending and went straight to my travel agent to book the hotel. It’s going to be big. Predictors are now saying it’ll be the biggest international convention outside the USA ever and there are mumblings that it might even outdo the the record-breaking one of 1984 in terms of attendance.
Of course there’s the usual Eastercon, this time in Glasgow. I’ve never attended an Eastercon for various reasons, but this one should prove interesting for the more scientifically minded.
Then, from my point of view, there’s the third most important convention, Bristolcon on 25th October. It’s friendly, nice and very enjoyable.
That’s what we definitely know about. So what about science fiction trends?
Well, there seems to be a buzz about artificial intelligences in various forms at the moment. I certainly expect Ann Leckie’s Ancilliary Justice to be on the BSFA awards shortlist for starters. Madeline Ashby has followed up her vN with iD and I understand there’s a third novel to follow.
2013 saw a slight rise in the number of new science fiction books published, which means the genre is at last starting down the road of catching up with fantasy. I expect this trend to continue. The rise in fantasy was in part due to the Lord of The Rings film trilogy that came out at the start of the century, followed closely by the Harry Potter series. We have recently seen Star Trek restart and the Star Wars final trilogy is on the cards. Gravity has also been getting good reviews and there has been much talk about Elysium. So hopefully the film effect will happen for science fiction as it did for fantasy.
But what about new ideas and themes in science fiction? Will there be any?
I certainly expect there to be more stories about climate change given the recent storms we have suffered in various parts of the world. The ones that will succeed will be those that suggest answers to the problem, not the dystopian warnings we’ve had to date. Are there any answers? You bet there are. The real problem is political – getting the nations to work together – go figure.
There’s a buzz about space exploration in the near future, what with Skylon and various other privately funded space plane designs on the horizon. I expect this to trickle through to science fiction. And what will the good stories be about? Space law versus practicalities in all its various guises.
Whilst either of these topics are big enough to keep the publishing capacity of the whole genre going on their own, there are other subjects that ought to get a peek in. There ought to more on the effects of going cyborg – we can already implant chips in brains to help people see, but what’s the real effect? When does the brain replaced by computer bits and bobs actually lose its soul? Or how about the need to improve the food and water supplies for the growing population (it’s comparatively easy to get mineral supplies from space)? After all we’ve already seen the Looking Landwards anthology published this year as a start to this theme. More is becoming known about how quantum mechanics really affects our lives. So I would expect to see more on this topic exploring the what if quantum mechanics does this type of thing. And of course I have to include the traditional wild card in these speculations. If any year had the feel to it of producing such a wild card in science fiction, then it sure is 2014.
Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!