When I first started writing fantasy, science fiction—particularly space opera—was all the rage. No one was interested in fantasy. Then came the Lord of the Rings movies and speculative fiction shifted. Is it about to shift again?
True, the Hobbit has yet to be made, and there are still four Narnia books left to adapt to the big screen, but Harry Potter is finished and Disney has announced an end to their fairy tale movies. If film is an indicator of the direction books will take, I can’t help but wonder where fantasy is headed.
I suppose the swing of the pendulum is bound to teeter toward science fiction again, and I think there is some indication that process has begun. Fantasy for several years has favored the urban kind or dystopian fantasy—another name for apocalyptic or futuristic fantasy. How, I wonder, is this latter so different from futuristic science fiction?
Television has continued to produce science fiction even during this fantasy phase. Stargate: SG1 and it’s spawns have lead the way along with Battlestar Galactica. More recently V, a reprisal of an 1980s miniseries, has hit prime time.
The film industry seems to be edging toward science fiction as well. Star Trek, the 2009 prequel to the television series by that title, was well received by critics and viewers alike. And Avatar, arguably best categorized as science fantasy, was a blockbuster hit.
One way or another, speculative fiction seems to have an enduring place in our culture. Horror has even had its heyday when The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone were two of the most watched television shows. More recently Buffy the Vampire Slayer was followed by Angel, Supernatural, and The Vampire Diaries.
The question I can’t help but ask is this: in what direction are books headed? In particular, in what direction is Christian fiction headed?
And these secondary questions: Will Christian publishers embrace speculative fiction as the culture’s love affair with the genre continues? Will “science fiction” become the next dirty word to those seeking “safe fiction” rather than God-glorifying fiction? If not “horror,” what place does “supernatural suspense” have in Christian fiction? Can fantasy and science fiction share the spot light, or will the pendulum inevitably shift to one side or the other?
While you’re pondering these questions, science fiction fans may want to check out Ray Gun Revival, Version 2.0. This online ezine for Space Opera and “Golden Age Sci Fi,” which lost its support structure when Double-Edge Publishing was sold, is relaunching February 1. Writers may submit stories and readers may subscribe to receive updates. Enjoy! 😀