Honey, I shrank the Science Fiction

As we all know the ticket to fame, fortune and er… whatever it is we get from writing is to write fantasy. At least I was told as far back as the early nineties that science fiction didn’t sell.  As well as being told as soon as I broke in that ladies wrote fantasy. (No use telling them I wasn’t a lady. At that I escaped only lightly insulted. My friend Rebecca Lickiss was told she had the heart of a fantasy writer. She says she has the keys to that drawer and she can’t figure out how her agent knew.)

My clue to why science fiction isn’t selling came both with a review that insisted there was nothing new and no big idea to Darkship Thieves and therefore it wasn’t “important” and when a reader at Mad Genius Club – Hi Synova! – told me that she liked Darkship Thieves because it was science fiction as it used to be “before we made ourselves small.”

Before I proceed – and because this isn’t about me – the big idea in Darkship Thieves is that laws can worsen the problem they’re trying to control. Yes, I know the idea of growing someone as a spare body or spare parts isn’t new. You think I’m stupid? But I got sick and tired onto nausea of this being portrayed as an evil of OPEN and free market societies and “there ought to be a law” being recommended as a remedy for it.

Quickly – I’ve been told by no smaller authority than my son that these posts run way too long – laws don’t stop things. They certainly don’t stop technology. They just make it go underground. And in an open, free market society growing a full human being for parts or as a replacement body is inane. Humans are EXPENSIVE to grow. No matter what you do, you still have to feed them, clothe them, educate them at least enough to control them. In a society that doesn’t restrict science with stupid laws, ways will be found to grow the needed organ. Probably a lot faster, too. And anyone trying to grow a whole human as a replacement body will at the very least get shunned. (It is still murder!) OTOH in a society in which the IDEA of cloning has been forbidden for so long it’s literally unthinkable, people with money and power can have an “heir” grown as a spare body.

Unfortunately science fiction – excepting Baen, of course, (though that gets dismissed as “mostly military sf”) and a few non baen books that managed to get through the gauntlet – has devolved to a state in which two types of science fiction are accepted: 1- Hard science fiction in which the “new idea” has to be something startling, different and never used (this btw, is insane when it comes to readers. Readers don’t demand that every fantasy novel come up with a new, startling, totally different form of magic. The exploration of tropes happens incrementally, not by startling, totally new, never before voiced ideas. All of us, as readers, like the familiar with a new twist.) And 2- sociological science fiction.

For some reason to count as the second you have to pile on some social “issue” or danger that has been discussed to death in liberal arts courses in the last forty years. The anomie of modern society say. Or the aching pain of gender differences. To my knowledge the only reason the heartbreak of psoriasis hasn’t been mentioned is that liberal arts professors have yet to take it up. (And why should day? Eczema is a much more achy breaky hearty thingy. I mean, I have it, and this is ALL about my belly button, right?)

So, how was it different, before we made ourselves small? Well… Heinlein wrote about slavery and its social consequences in Citizen of the Galaxy. You don’t get much bigger social issue than with a young man being sold at the very opening. Stripping it of the racial overtones it has mostly in the US allowed him to analyze the institution in its full peculiarity (and irrationality) as well as the conditions that allowed it to occur. Ditto in one of the stories in Green Hills of Earth, whose name escapes me now.  Starman Jones?  A society controlled by guilds and unions.  Podkayne of Mars? Treat your children as commodities and see the results. Stranger? What the meaning of being human is. Is it genetic or inborn? The Lazarus Long cycle? What happens when our taboos meet life that’s prolonged beyond our wildest dreams.

Let’s take someone else – Clifford D Simak. They Walked Like Men. The big idea? Is fiat currency a good idea? City? What happens after Man and what is unique to Man? Way Station? Can a man live on out of his time? The werewolf principle? Can star travel change us to the point where we can’t be human on Earth anymore?

 Other big idea books and series: A canticle for Leibowitz; the World of Tiers; anything A E Van Vogt wrote (the man threw out three big ideas per page,) Foundation and a ton others which I’d tell you if I weren’t too lazy to walk over to my science fiction bookcase this early in the morning.

What do all those have in common? Shout louder, I can’t hear you!

Oh, yeah, I KNOW! They were fun.  People enjoyed reading them.  They sold.  The ideas were wrapped around an adventure, something that made it fun. And they were written in such a way that people in hopeless situations knew they could get out, if they worked hard enough and had just the right breaks.

Polyanish, you say? Oh, sure. It’s so much better to pound into people’s heads, over and over again that they’re victims, can’t escape and are ultimately doomed. What are you? The guardian of Hades? “Abandon all hope ye who enter here?” Or do you abrogate to yourself the power of pulling people out of their hopeless situation through your “art” or perhaps the power of “advocacy” so “government” can intervene and save them? (Flash – government is composed of people too. If the individual can do nothing, government can do nothing too – only they do it faster, harder and with somebody else’s money.)

At the end of this we’re seeing science fiction which SERIOUSLY advocates that all our destiny and actions on Earth are set by our genes (oh, I kid you not) and that this is a “good” thing, and science fiction in which good aliens come to save us from ourselves (because they have nothing better to do with their time?  Save two humans and get an interest rate of a human per millenium.)

And then people are astounded – shocked, shocked, I tell you – that this stuff doesn’t sell well. Because you know, people are a) dying to hear again all the sad stories that were pounded into them in college. b) people like to be told they can’t do anything and are without the ability to save themselves. c) hard luck sob stories that don’t end well always are good sellers. This is why people stop to read the cardboard of beggars by the side of the road. “Homeless; parents died in a fire; dog got run over; have seizures; child has the gnats; can’t work.” Riveting stuff that. And totally plausible.

Will the future bring us big problems? I should hope so. The past had big problems too. Will we be able to solve them? I should hope so. After some truly horrible interregnums we have by and large solved the problems thrown at us.

To face the future we need to think about the future. (I have nothing against fantasy. I’ve been known to write fantasy. But a different muscle gets used for that. And it prepares for different things.) To have the confidence in what is right, we need to know what is right and not continuously berate ourselves and doubt our judgement because of what distant ancestors did before our grandparents were born. But to solve big problems, we need to be big.

Training a telescope on one’s own belly button will only reveal lint. You like that? You go right on staring at it. I prefer looking at galaxies.

47 responses to “Honey, I shrank the Science Fiction

  1. Amen Sister Sarah!!! [Smile]

  2. Love this post. Just love it. Thank God for Baen or space opera would be as dead as China Mieville’s political philosophies. Oh, I think Ace still publishes some Sci-Fi, too but when I went looking for publishers for Novel #1, I was dismayed by the Fantasy to Sci-Fi ratio.

    Anyway, I agree with just about everything you wrote*.

    Thanks again.

    *I’d quibble over people being shunned over growing a replacement body. If anything is done openly and without consequences, it gets accepted. Law at least serve the function of defining what is and is not acceptible to society.

    • Sorry, I don’t agree with you. Laws can’t control social disapproval. Look, tobacco. If we had made it illegal, back when everyone smoked, it would have been a new prohibition. But rightly or wrongly (I don’t like sanctimonious campaigns) social disapproval has done what law couldn’t.) And of course people would be upset over growing a replacement body, raising it as a child, then taking over. Heck, I’m not sure, given the strong outcry against that sort of thing, that growing an anacephalous body would be approved of or tolerated. The publicity for those wealthy enough to do it would be horrendous. If nothing else, because of envy. Think of all the people who have plastic surgery and deny they have. And if growing one and raising it as a child… well… You’d probably end up murdered. Now, if it’s illegal and done underground, people won’t believe it. It will be a “crazy rumor” and even if they’re sure it’s true, they’ll be afraid to say anything and be thought insane.
      Laws are a horrifying thing. So often they lead to unintended consequences. And setting morality by laws tends to lead to the sort of situation where people almost think that what’s not forbidden must be compulsory. (Shudder.) Always always remember that behind the law is government and government in the end is force. No, I don’t care how democratically elected. What government means is the power to enforce. Ie. “Do what we say or you go to jail.” That’s a terrible thing to deploy for the sense of informing people’s moral sense. In the end it’s a sophisticated form of bullying, and while it’s needed, in certain circumstances, one must be very careful how it’s used.

      • An even better example is Drunk Driving. Before the MADD campaign started comedians could build entire careers playing the adorable drunk, and jokes about the topic were common. Then the tolerance changed — THEN the laws started getting rigorously enforced.

        It is a primary principle of Sociology that laws are the last barrier to drop on unacceptable behaviour, after mores and something else I’ve long since forgotten. The point being, laws only come into effect when a society so strongly agrees that a behaviour is unacceptable that we can be confident a jury will convict if the evidence exists. Consider areas of law where there is no such broad public endorsement, such as minor possession of marijuana.

        Similarly, there is a tendency to not write laws making it illegal to do things so horrible we cannot imagine ANYbody doing such acts … until somebody does do it and prosecutors discover eating people isn’t against the law.

        If you haven’t already done so, please consider reading the works of Philip K. Howard, most notably “The Death of Common Sense”. One point he makes very effectively is that a society MUST be willing to enforce the death penalty consequent to breaking ANY law, because breaking any law can lead to resisting arrest, to fleeing an officer, to armed resistance …

        From Howard’s Wikipage:
        The core flaw in the modern law, Howard argues, is the premise that law can dictate correct behavior by specific rules, and can determine the correct course of conduct by objective evidence in a trial. Law in a free society is supposed to set outer boundaries of unreasonable behavior, not be a multiple choice test or an ordeal by trial whenever there’s a dispute. These boundaries of law are supposed to define and protect an open field of freedom, Howard argues—to set “frontiers, not artificially drawn, within which men shall be inviolable” (quoting philosopher Isaiah Berlin). Today, Howard argues, those legal dikes have burst, so people wade through law all day long. Instead of looking where they want to go, they go through the day looking over their shoulders.

        Howard argues that the flawed conception of law as a way to compel correctness manifests itself in the assumptions of modern legal orthodoxy:
        [SNIPPITY-SNIP]
        The essential paradox in Howard’s philosophy is that authority is essential for freedom. Only when the judge has authority to dismiss an unreasonable claim will people in society feel free in daily interaction to act on their reasonable judgment. Only when the official can use his common sense will government act sensibly, and be able to adapt to practical problems that constantly arise. Only when the teacher has authority to respond immediately to disorder can we build a culture of respect and order in America’s schools. The fear of abuse of authority has driven America to a hyper-legalistic society, which Howard argues causes constant failure and unfairness. Far better to have clear lines of accountability up a hierarchy—to appeal the judge’s unreasonable ruling, or fire the abusive official, than to prescribe in advance their decisions. By putting legal shackles on those with responsibility, Howard argues, we unintentionally put shackles on ourselves.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_K._Howard

        Sorry – you roused a peeve that wanted petting.

        • Interesting. My husband and I were strict parents from h*ll when the kids were little and until they were about 12 (or, “whenever you can argue cogently*) as a result we’re incredibly lax parents now. Our house functions as a household of adults, by and large and has for the last three or four years. My kids’ classmates usually wear out their welcome after a few minutes. (Not the younger boy’s girlfriend. We like her! But she too comes from a strict household.) I’ve come to believe that to raise free individuals you need to instill regard for others and codes of acceptable human behavior in childhood. To raise free men you can’t be an anything goes family. At least not initially. Uh — forgetting for a moment Sparta was in point of fact a proto-communist h*ll hole — “Spartan women have a say because only they give birth to MEN.” Actually, RES, this is a topic I’ve been contemplating. Not the Sparta joke, the rest.

  3. “Logic of Empire”.

  4. I think you’ve also hit the nail rather squarely. I’m actually rather a fan of Louis L’Amour westerns. Lots of reasons, but a big one is because his characters never think they’re helpless and never think of themselves as cogs in a giant machine.

    Are there Big New Ideas? Not usually: the problems of 17th-19th century frontier life are no longer novel. All they have is people who manage to solve their problems, people we like spending time with in their context.

    As much as I love Ted Sturgeon’s writing, I think his definition of Science Fiction as a story that couldn’t take place except for the scientific content did a lot of damage to the field. Look specifically at Heinlein’s Colliers/SEP stories: “Gentlemen Be Seated” could be caisson miners in the Hudson; “Logic of Empire” describes something very like the environment that brought my Hungarian family here from Szalgotarjan; “Ordeal in Space” could be someone who fell overboard from a warship. The science merely serves to put a believable character in peril in a situation that holds the interest.

    See also Clarke’s short stories: “The Other Side of the Sky” is a collection of stories where there’s a perilous or emotionally significant situation that happens to be in space.

    For what I think are primarily historical reasons, we’ve come to a stage where military people are the only ones we think of as having “adventures” with peril and significance — but that’s an Aristotelian accident, not the essence.

    • I like Ted Sturgeon’s work, but I agree with you. And we should be able to re-dream the future. Part of it is that I don’t think most kids are even aware of the past sf ideas. Take Simak’s Our Children’s Children (well, in Portuguese. I’m not sure same title in English. There is something horrible in the future and we start getting refugees…)

  5. OH very well said. I would like to make an additional point if I might. One of the panels I do a lot at cons (I was on one a while back and now it’s on my list of topics to propose when I’m on programming) is “Is an SF Renaissance right around the corner.” One of the questions I ask is “how many people in this room are under 30?” Usually depressingly few hands go up.

    For written SF (movies and TV are a different beast) to “grow” we need to attract more young people. And that’s why one of my current WIPs (started it a lo-o-o-o-o-ng time ago before I was largely fafiated from writing and am just now getting back into it) is a “Middle Reader” SF novel about a Girl and her Dolphin (or maybe a Dolphin and her Girl?).

    We need more SF for young people.

    • Timothy Zahn, the Dragonback series. My teenaged daughter, immersed in fantasy writing, loved it.

      There needs to be a great deal more like it.

    • Of course we do, but the “establishment” has for a long time insisted that only YA fantasy is allowed. Ah, well. That too is changing, or they’ll get swept away.

  6. You know, several times now you’ve had something to say here and I’ve thought “that’s a good topic to write about on my own blog” and then I have to shake myself and tell myself “maybe another time” because I don’t want to just be a pale echo of other writer’s blogs.

  7. First, I enjoy your books. Thanks for writing them.

    People are smart. Happiness (flourishing, thriving, life satisfaction – pick)leads to success far more than success leads to happiness. And the reverse is often true also, falure stems far more from unhappiness than vice versa. Most people have some sense of this, but they can find it difficult to articulate and defend when they don’t know the science. So, they’ll sit and take it when they are in school, but not so much on the outside. They’d rather read stories about characters where optimism, zest, engagement, hope, love, fairness and other universally admired human qualities generate success. Sure, the settings, and maybe even the level of success, can be fantastical, but the message is rock solid.

    Every day, folks overcome challenges and achieve goals they care about by thinking, feeling, and acting in optimistic, resilient, caring, ways that reveal core elements of human character. Just as an example, Tom in Gentleman Takes a Chance comes to mind. He’s able to fight through the mind control of the dire wolf by focusing on love, belonging, and protection – key human character strengths and values. Moving outside your work (and science fiction), Groundhog Day, is a classic on the power of focusing on well-being, including the well-being of others, to help us move forward.

    Again, thanks for writing.

    • Thank you for reading :)
      Sometimes, judging by the books my kids are forced to read in school, I wonder if the whole thing isn’t designed as an aversion program. I don’t think it is though. They’re not that smart. Just trying to feel “relevant” and “special.”

  8. “It’s so much better to pound into people’s heads, over and over again that they’re victims, can’t escape and are ultimately doomed. What are you? The guardian of Hades? “Abandon all hope ye who enter here?” Or do you abrogate to yourself the power of pulling people out of their hopeless situation through your “art” or perhaps the power of “advocacy” so “government” can intervene and save them? (Flash – government is composed of people too. If the individual can do nothing, government can do nothing too – only they do it faster, harder and with somebody else’s money.)”

    Stolen for my political quotes file! >:}~

  9. Interesting take, Sarah. It makes more sense than anything I’ve come up with; all I know is, with the exception of Baen and one other author who significantly impresses me who isn’t published by Baen (L.E. Modesitt, Jr.), I don’t find much. Charlie Stross, too, has written a number of interesting hard SF stuff, but there’s a lot of dystopia in his work which probably goes to the other point you’re making — whatever interesting stuff that does make it over the transom tends to be dystopic, and that’s flat-out depressing.

    Mind you, in the fantasy genre right now, there’s a ton of dystopias that have been put out there, especially since Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” did extremely well. (The second book did very well also. The third book . . . well, sales were good. Most fans were highly disappointed.)

    I don’t like dystopias in general (enjoyed “Hunger Games,” and one that’s upcoming by a new author, “Legend,” looks good), and I am incapable of writing them. I am capable of writing darker stories, yes, but not flat-out dystopic ones. I’d rather focus on my bigger ideas underneath humor if at all possible; talking about orphaned children or abused children or folks who really believe their best days are behind them but aren’t — those are bigger themes and they can be depressing ones, but if you find a story in which they work, and you can show that maybe the character is wrong and there’s still some good days ahead in the worst of times, I think that should be more than enough for an editor or an agent to wish for (along with good-quality writing and the ability to tell a story, of course).

    I’m with you all the way that SF stories do not have to have huge ideas as their centerpiece; I like it better when they’re there (as in your excellent DARKSHIP THIEVES, or in eluki bes shahar’s HELLFLOWER trilogy) but you’re concentrating on the characters and what they’re doing about things rather than the “big idea” itself. (I hope this makes sense.)

  10. meh, I believe it’s all the fault of east coast liberal arts colleges who give degrees in the spinning of meaning out of belly-button lint. Their graduates seem to cluster in publishing.

  11. Damn it Sarah, now you’ve made me want to go reread all of Simak! By coincidence, I have _Time and Again_ in the room with me (Big idea: what makes a being a HUMAN being).

    • I hate his books are so hard to find. Sometime back I bought a whole lot of them on ebay. They were doubled (though not all of them :/) so I had to share with someone and I passed one half to a friend I’d been talking to about Simak. One of them is now on Guttenberg project, but it’s of course an early one.

  12. Stephen Simmons

    It isn’t just the science fiction we’ve shrunk. The changes in sf are just a tangible manifestation of our (Western civilization’s) shrinking expectations and aspirations. The Space Race achieved the impossible, on deadline and under budget, because America, collectively, *believed* it was going to work. In fact, we couldn’t conceive NOT achieving it.

    I won’t sully your blog with my estimation of why this happened (except to point out the simple assertion by the culprits that the possibility of producing losers made the process that produced winners unacceptable …).

    I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Simak. Which means the “to be read” mountain is about to become a range … lol. Thank you. I need more of that sort of thing as fuel. :)

    Oh, and if I didn’t already mention this — brilliant post. Thank you.

    • Stephen, the thing is that we’re not smaller. We’ve just convinced ourselves we are. Kind of like a reverse wizard behind the curtain thing. AND you MUST read Simak. Hard to find, these days, as for some reason his estate doesn’t seem to want him reprinted. Start with City. I don’t agree with his conclusion, but it’s magnificent. Then move on to Way Station. And Werewolf Principle is both of one of my and Dave Freer’s favorites, and might be the greatest romance ever written. I’m jealous of you for getting to read this first. Oh, Why Bring Them Back From Heaven is also pretty good, I think — I have yet to be able to find it in English.

      • We are become Theoden King, listening to Grima Wormtongue?

        Hmmm, its been forty years since I read Simak, but his was one of the voices which hooked me on Science Fiction; happily, I still have his books … which to read first …

  13. 'nother Mike

    “The secret to performance and satisfaction — at work, at school, and at home — is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.” From the cover of Drive, by Daniel H. Pink. Why should people in speculative fiction be different?

  14. Sarah – thank you. You’ve explained so well why I read so little outside of the Baen works these days.

    There is no hope, no grand scale.. none of that in most other stuff (a few exceptions – God I love the Dresden files, and despite hating zombie stories in general for their nihilism, loved World War Z. And Card’s stuff.)

    • I’m shocked when I re-read Heinlein’s YA. Particularly because I know most of these were written while he was going through personal financial hardship, but the books, even the ones that are somewhat dystopic, sing with hope for the future and “grand scale.”

  15. There is still hard science fiction? (well, yes, but so little it’s near invisible.) I think you left out two categories – ‘sparkly sf’ (rather like sparkly vampires) – in the Alistair Reynolds style and and computer geek sf – a la Stross , and the two blend into each other. I keep feeling the food arrives by VR, and the world outside the urban commute and cubicle are not there. But there are lots of ingenious flashy apps. This describes the reality of a lot of the customers of this kind of sf, so it sells well.

    On the other hand it does not challenge the status quo and nods politely to all the tin gods of PC. And I keep feeling that it’s rather like ‘misery-porn’ (a delightful subgenre of inevitably abused women usually in poverty, who came to a miserable drug/alcohol end, which did quite well). The question is: who bought it? The answer is not people who can identify with the characters. Rather it is the poor victims who have sometimes been abused by having someone hold open a door for them, or the fact that their favorite flavor of soy yogurt was not on the refrigerated shelf and they had to go all the way to customer support and ask for it. Brutality! It was a combination of misery tourism, and self-justification (really I deserve to spend a weekend at the health spa being pampered. Men are vile brutes and they owe it to me.) Likewise these readers are not people who need big dreams and uplifting books which are fun. They’re well-off, comfortable in their cubicle, enjoying their latte, satisfied with the status quo. A bit of grunge and misery gives them a frisson. It’s so… novel.

    Unfortunately that’s a tiny subsection of the audience, and one which is shrinking very fast. We need books with big ideas and lots of fun again, to get us up and fighting again.

    • I think there are other reasons that grunge and misery became popular in sf. I saw it happen in the eighties. You see, most writers were so sure that this is where Reagan’s policies would lead, they started writing it. And then they forgot WHY they were writing it. I think in a way they started wanting it because in their minds it was “real.” Talk about unconsciously steering us somewhere.

  16. “Training a telescope on one’s own belly button will only reveal lint. You like that? You go right on staring at it. I prefer looking at galaxies.”

    May I steal this line for my sig collection?

  17. Well golly, one notably absent “BIG IDEA” SF novel is also one of the field’s oldest: Jack Williamson’s “With Folded Hands.” Can’t think why our advocates of the nanny state don’t want to talk about that one.

    I suspect that the reason SF is being shrunken is the same reason our schools no longer educate, preferring indoctrination instead. Training people to ask “Why?”, Why Not?” and “Mightn’t we try a different way?” is hardly congenial to the bureaucratic state. We got union work rules that prescribe how we are to think, young lady, and there’s no point in you rocking the boat.

    A number of years back I had the delightful recognition that the SF/F sections in bookstores were much MUCH larger than when I first discovered the field, followed by the disheartening realization that there was less SF than ever, and far more Fantasy. Pfui, as Mr. Wolfe was wont to say.

    • An interesting point about “With Folded Hands” is that it amounts to what could go wrong with Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics. After all the humanoids directive ”to serve and obey and guard men from harm” is really just a restatement of the first two of those laws.

    • I loved With Folded Hands.
      You know, it was one of the low days of my life when I went to my first bookstore in the US, after marriage, and SF/F was three shelves in the “annex” section and most of those were tie ins or fantasy. Lost my innocence that day, in a way. Also decided that Alice Maria da Silva Marques de Almeida Hoyt was too weird for a book cover, which eventually led to a name chance. Eh.

  18. 'nother Mike

    Sorry, I should be more explicit. The cognitive psych people, the management people, even “pop culture” folks like Pink and so on are all talking about taking control of your own life, learning and creating, and having goals bigger than yourself as necessary, powerful parts of our lives. I don’t quite understand why SF, society, and so on keep trying to dive into despair, except that it’s so much easier. After all, wrecking things is easy — building takes real grit.

  19. Because it won’t nest any deeper, this is in reply to the following comment:

    “I’ve come to believe that to raise free individuals you need to instill regard for others and codes of acceptable human behavior in childhood. To raise free men you can’t be an anything goes family.”

    While I share your view, the complex of influences here is not so simple as some (the notorious “some” rear their ugly heads yet again!) would take it. Instilling self-discipline is essential to nurturing functional adults, but another factor here is that too many Boomer parents disdain growing-up themselves and thus fail to model adult behaviour for their kids. So the anything goers fail their offspring in two ways (at minimum.)

  20. Came here from Vodkapundit and had to stay and read. (So much for my Sunday….) I saw bits of it in your newer posts, but when I got here it was confirmed. I love your brain! I think the first clue was seeing you mention Heinlein as a positive example, rather than the usual idiotic criticisms echoed by people who never actually read him. (Except those who only read Stranger to justify sleeping around, missing the point.)

    A long time Iago I saw J. Michael Strakzynski at a Con, and in his speech he made a comment about how somewhere along the way, we as a society stumbled, and when you stumble, you get up and go on, but you tend to look at your feet, instead of looking out ahead to the future. And we see that today, “Why spend money on a space program when we can spend that money giving food stamps to the latest generation of illiterates we’ve graduated?” (Gotta watch myself, I could go on at length on that one).

    It seems the publishing industry, and Science Fiction in particular have stumbled, and lost the ability to be visionary.

    It’s been a while since I picked up any new books – I have a huge to-read shelf to work through – but I’m going to have to add you to the list, for sure.

    • You might want to check out Sarah’s space opera, Darkship Theives. Here’s a link for the e-book ( http://www.webscription.net/p-1102-darkship-thieves.aspx ). No DRM, but not available in digital format through anyone except the publisher. You can get the print version through Amazon, etc.

      • Already on my list, just waiting for me to finish my banking transition. Seems Wells Fargo is much like the publishing industry, instead of embracing paperless banking, they’ve decided to “experiment” with charging to use your debit card, so I’ve decided to “experiment” with a different bank….