Science Fiction – Shortage of New Books?

A science fiction reviewer I know rations himself on reviewing newly published science fiction books because not enough of them are being published for his voracious reading appetite.

Emma Newman is author of the Planetfall series of novels – After Atlas was shortlisted for the 2017 Arthur C Clarke award and the 3rd novel, Before Mars, shortlisted for a BSFA Best Novel. The overall series was shortlisted for the 2020 Best Series Hugo Award. And yet she says on her website, ‘I would dearly love to write another book in the Planetfall universe, but at present there are no publishing offers to support that.

There are plenty of upcoming science fiction books listed on Amazon that are being published over the next 90 days. You would think science fiction is a healthy genre.

Some will be new issues of previously published books (e.g. Neuromancer) and books associated with fandom such as Star Wars, Star Trek and Dr Who. More are issues in another format such as paperback when the novel has already been published in hardback. Some are the next instalments in long running space operas where the milieu is all too familiar and type of story will have a familiar ring to it. And herein lies the problem. A lot of books are one way or another a regurgitation of what has been published before. You can’t blame the publishers for this – they are businesses wanting to make sufficient profit to pay their workers.

So you have to sift through the lists to find out what is really new. As a general rule if a book is being published as a hardback it is either a classic or a new book. But there are many good books that are first published as paperbacks.

The only really sure way of finding out whether a book is newly published is to go to the publishers’ websites. Way back in the middle of 2019 I did put together a powerpoint of UK speculative fiction publishers in the UK, which is below. Please note some of the entries may unfortunately be out of date and not all of them may publish science fiction.

But yes, it can be tedious regularly checking up on all these websites. What about a central website that pulls together a list of new books? The one I know about does not seem to cover all these publishers. There are likely to be others, if you can find them. But the point remains, there is no one go-to site for a list of every science fiction book published by publishers.

The other issue I have is fantasy has been more and more lumped in with science fiction. The distinction between these genres is now blurred so much that even the sellers can’t cope. With about six fantasy books published for every science fiction book these days, it is not surprising that science fiction seems to be lost under a tonne of paper that had nothing to do with the genre. These days going to bookstore means reading all the titles and quickly (at least in my case) discarding the obvious fantasy ones – a bit of a time waster if you ask me.

Between these two issues it is not surprising it is difficult to find new science fiction. All I’m going to say is that when a new good science fiction does com out, it is likely to be noticed.

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