I went to a public lecture yesterday on a mathematical subject. Nothing unusual in that you may say… except it really spooked me out… the jaw dropping – I don’t believe this – how could I have got my science fiction future tech so right spook… and the natural implication in my case – why the heck do publishers not want to publish my stuff…
Before you say anything, let’s rule out things like bad writing craft, anecdotes rather than stories being written and the characters being cardboard cut-outs. Yes some of my early drafts are like that, but not the later ones, and it’s these later ones who’ve been through beta readers etc that I’m talking about.
Let’s also rule out things like easily predictable technology like ever smaller and more powerful computers, clothing that automatically changes to the occasion (e.g. boiler suit to cocktail dress), better and cheaper desalinisation plants etc.
What we are talking about here is tech that is crazily unpredictable (OK wise-geek just because I predicted it makes it predictable, but it doesn’t mean that it is accepted as predictable tech by others).
I can’t get the publishers or agents interested in this tech. I can’t even get one of best stories (which involves less wilder tech, but is a heck of a tale) published in a small circulation magazine reprinted by the bigger publishers. [Before you ask, I’d previously sent it to a competition, where I thought it had a good chance of getting published. Turned out one judge took a massive dislike to it, and it was not taken forward despite the pleas of others on the judging panel – I only found this out much later. I came extremely close to giving up writing science fiction when I got that rejection.]
So where can you get decent tech science fiction? There’s of course, Nature Futures… err wait a minute didn’t the last story I read have a fantasy element to it? There’s Analog… not judging by the last issue I read… There’s Jupiter of course… but that does not have that wide a circulation… What about novels? A lot are space opera based on mediaeval adventure stories. A few do get published, but mainly by authors who established their following in the last century and there are some issues involved even here… still, that’s out for a newcomer. Why not self-publish? Don’t be silly… it requires marketing skills I don’t have. Some of the so-called best independently published stories are successful because of those marketing skills, not because they are good stories.
Basically until readers show they want more demand for this kind of tech science fiction story, the publishers will keep on publishing the same old fantasy. Yes, I did say FANTASY. That is what a lot of supposed science fiction is today, mere fantasy.
Well, you can work out from the above what is coming next… no, I’m not going to tell you… readers are blind to the future because the tech science fiction is not getting published… so by not telling you, you can feel as blind about what I’m up to as the readers are about their potential futures…