The end of the ‘Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast’

Although most of what I write can be classified as neither science fiction nor fantasy, I’ve been a faithful weekly listener of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast for about three years now.

Joe Lallo, Lindsay Buroker, and Jeff Poole never fail to provide good insights on the art and business of writing.

This past week, they announced that they would be “taking a few months off”.

That of course leaves the door open for a return. If the history of other podcasts, blogs, and YouTube channels is a guide, however, “taking a few months off” is usually synonymous with quitting for good.

I shall be sorry to see them go. Nevertheless, I can understand if their hearts are no longer in the endeavor.

Sometimes a podcast, a YouTube channel, or a blog simply runs its course… Sometimes for the audience…and sometimes for the creator(s).


The Nebula meltdown, and the science fiction snoozefest

I have, with no small measure of amusement, been following the meltdown over the Nebula/20Booksto50K affair.

(If you’re unfamiliar with that controversy, there are various reports about it on the Internet.)

In these things, very seldom is one side completely in the right and the other completely in the wrong. And so it is here: From a procedural standpoint, I get that online “slates” can affect the integrity of awards. In this regard, the science fiction “establishment” had a point…even if they were shrill and sanctimonious about making it.

I’ll be honest with the reader: I don’t give two hoots in a rain barrel about the Nebula Awards or who wins them. There is a more interesting and pertinent observation to be made here, beyond the scope of one paltry award:

The indie science fiction publishing scene continues to eat the lunch of the establishment.  I’ve been following the career of Richard Fox, for example (an indie published author). He’s been cleaning up in the marketplace, without the help of the New York publishing houses.

Traditional publishing isn’t a bad idea, in and of itself. There is something to be said for professional curators and editors. The problem, though, is that the traditional science fiction establishment has been taken over by leftwing ideologues. Almost everything they (especially Tor Books) publish nowadays has a socio-political “angle”. A few years ago, their obsession was race. Now they seem to be obsessed with transgenderism.

There is a place for that in literary fiction, perhaps. In science fiction…not so much. Science fiction is supposed to be fun. This is what Richard Fox understands, that the sequestered grandees at Tor Books do not.

While we’re on the subject of science fiction awards: The Hugo Awards have become a spectacle in recent years. A single author has  won the best novel award three years in a row….And for three years in a row, she’s made the same speech about her racial identity.

Meanwhile, the 2018 Worldcon event was thrown into disarray over the accidental “misgendering” of a transgender participant. Said participant played this kerfuffle for all it was worth, using the occasion for much online grandstanding and bellyaching about how “unsafe” he/she/em felt because someone had mistakenly used the wrong pronoun in a program. Are some people really that precious? Apparently so.

None of this is the end of the world, of course. Nobody dies if a group of people on the Internet chooses to work itself into a tizzy about a pronoun.  Nobody dies if a group of people wants to pretend that a hackneyed speech about racial identity is something  new and fresh and original in 2018.

But such histrionics are about as interesting as watching water boil or grass grow. The whole thing is pretty darn boooooring, in fact.

And that’s the real problem with the the traditional science fiction establishment: It has become a snoozefest. In the marketplace,  few readers have the patience for longwinded navel-gazing speeches about identity politics.

Science fiction is supposed to be fun. Establishment science fiction simply  isn’t fun anymore. Until that changes, indie authors are going to continue to eat their lunch.

Remembering those Burger Chef ‘Star Wars’ posters of 1977

I was part of the original Star Wars generation.

I remember being nine years old in the summer of 1977, sitting with my dad in the cinema, watching that first epic Star Wars opening crawl.

I became a total fanatic for Star Wars. And yes, that meant Star Wars action figures, Star Wars trading cards, and much else. During that first two years of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, I wasn’t thinking about stagflation or the energy crisis, or Jimmy Carter’s “malaise”. I was thinking about Star Wars.

Among my favorite Star Wars memorabilia of that era were the four Star Wars posters issued by Burger Chef. (Burger Chef was a once popular fast food chain that went out of business in 1996.)

I had all four posters, and they were hung all around my bedroom. (I can still recall the exact placement of each one, in fact.)

These are now collectors’ items, of course. But they were just delightful children’s bric-a-brac in 1977.