Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sci-Fi Becomes History

Colin Lee mentions a study showing that fantasy-themed online RPG's outdraw SF-themed ones by some mind-boggling margin (link, please?), and suggests that the reason the fantasy market is still growing and SF continues to shrink is that sci-fi became reality and didn't live up to the demo.

Real robots are neither brilliant friends nor terrifying fiends, they're just quietly stealing our jobs. Space flight isn't as simple as strapping a surplus atomic motor onto a surplus DC-3 and hitting the accelerator, and our solar neighbors look to be notably devoid of either life or a reason to visit. Cyborg technology hasn't created a new breed of supermen, it's just keeping grandma alive in the nursing home, and the last notable new sci-fi trope -- "the Net" -- has turned out to be simply a great porn distribution system and a new way for Third Worlders to steal jobs by working even cheaper than robots.

How about it? Is the resurgence of fantasy evidence that modern science has grown too complex for mere writers and most readers to understand, or have we seen the future, and are now in full screaming retreat from it?