Well, so that was 2016… a year of horror in the real world (one way or another) and a personally difficult year for me (though I have had a couple of years that were far worse). So, unless something super nasty happens in 2017 happens, then it can only get better for me. As for the rest of the world, galaxy, cosmos or universe? That remains to be seen.
So what of 2017 science fiction wise?
With all this maelstrom of change going on in the real world, there will inevitably some spillover into science fiction. The political world is stepping back from globalisation and going for disintegration and fractionalisation. The glue that keeps the world together has turned from money (and all the stock markets, wheeler-dealing and currencies that go with it) to accessibility to information that leads to being used for various forms of power, whether it be through persuasion (as in tweets from the President-elect for the USA) or hiding knowledge and the truth from the public (as in sinking the facts about the leaving the EU in sea of nonsensical innuendo). These themes are bound to emerge in the science fiction short stories towards the end of 2017.
There have been changes brewing on the science fiction novel scene that are going to start to come to fruition in 2017. Some major authors are changing what they are offering to the public in reaction to the pleas of not wanting the same what has now become boring to readers. Except for possibly one case, where the author concerned is reputed to be going back to his most famous universe for his next novel – to satisfy the pleas of his reader-followers. Otherwise, it is a case of cautiously experimenting what is being offered to see what the public takes to.
As to what those changes might be is dependent on how much deviation the publishers are willing to tolerate from the same old tried and tested formulas. Even they are now seeing those formulas are no longer a guarantee of income.
Because of this swirl of change, it is difficult to see which way science fiction will be heading, except in one aspect. More people will want to know more about what technology will bring in the near future. There is some big money behind that – corporations wanting to know what to develop for the market are willing to put the time and money into the science fiction near term horizon scanning. They are looking for certainty when all around them is mayhem, chaos and confusion. They are grabbling at anything that can within reason help clarify the way ahead, and that includes science fiction stories about developing technology, and more importantly, how it will be used (or not used).
The Chinese curse of ‘May you live in interesting times’ is upon the world of science fiction. Live with it, run with it and most importantly, enjoy the opportunity while it lasts. And certainly before it gets pigeon-holed into themes or styling that every writer and publisher wants to get onto the band wagon to make money from it.
Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous 2017!