Mainstreaming science fiction?

John Scalzi on science fiction outreach. Star Wars may basically be fantasy with a crunchy SF shell, but I’m pretty sure we have quite a few CJers who read the hard stuff.

I’m pretty much a fantasy reader, mainly because I enjoy books that are more character-oriented and I haven’t had much luck finding that in pure science fiction. As readers, what are your thoughts? Are there any contemporary authors who are writing SF for the masses?

3 Replies to “Mainstreaming science fiction?”

  1. David Brin’s Earth series is truly Science Fiction. I felt so smart upon finishing it. Still didn’t understand but 1/4 of the science but I am not going to take any more advance physics classes just to understand black holes and stuff.

  2. I would say that Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan books are SF for the masses. Character-driven space opera of the finest order, with awesome male AND female characters who kick butt yet are deeply flawed. There are some neat science-fiction-y things in the books, like ships and wormhole jumps and terraforming and whatnot, but not an overload of description about how they were created or how they work. They just do. And they’re the backdrop for the characters and stories, yet are intrinsic to the plots as well.

  3. I’m intrigued by his contention that the only “relevant” sci-fi works to the masses are Heinlein, etc. And why is that? Just like he said: you didn’t have to always stay in the genre to get it.

    What I love about that era of science fiction was that the science was interesting and used for the plot, but you had a HUMAN story at the base of it.

    They also tended to stay away from science as doom stories and more into science as hope. The science was fascinating; as in “Look what we could possibly do in the future.”

    Maybe I wouldn’t see modern sci-fi as gloomy if I’d stayed in the genre. But I haven’t. And anything I have tried to read has been entirely too depressing!

    And I think Bujold has hit on a great combination of sci-fi and fantasy with her books. If others would go down that road a little, I’d probably join in there, as well!

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