Thursday, October 8, 2009

New and Noteworthy (SGU Review, SF's Respectability, Tracking Genre TV Trends)

Today's list includes

* In the interest of balance (given my reaction to the pilot), this rather favorable review of the first episodes of SGU (which, as the author informs us at the outset, specifically avoids the BSG comparisons).

* A fairly lively discussion over at Lou Anders's Bowing to the Future about the old issue of the mainstream's literary elite's attitude toward speculative fiction (one which recaps recent high points in the debate-not least, the comments from Kim Stanley Robinson and recent genre coverage in The Guardian-and also includes participants unafraid of raising issues of cold hard cash, and possible hypocrisy).

* From io9's Lauren Davis, a graph offering a comprehensive track of the popularity of genre themes over time, one which suggests some interesting conclusions. Interestingly Davis notes that
the graph's most striking feature is the boom all the themes apparently experienced in the 1990s . . . [which] now seems to be on the decline . . . suggest[ing] a huge investment in genre television shows (and perhaps in television in general) that we simply aren't seeing any more . . . Interestingly, space travel shows were the first to go as circumstances changed, and although shows about managed to hang on longer, they, too are on their way out. Does this indicate that science fiction and fantasy shows are on the decline? Or does it represent a shift to less expensive, near-future science fiction with different speculative priorities, shows like Dollhouse, Chuck, and Fringe?
My methodology in setting forth my assessment of the situation in the June 2008 and June 2009 editions of the Internet Review of Science Fiction was less scientific, but similar in some of its conclusions (particularly about the shift in tropes, away from space, toward the close-at-hand, the subtly different, and the low budget). Chuck, of course, is all but finished, Dollhouse hung on by the skin of its teeth, and Fringe could be in trouble, so it may well be that the turn to "less expensive, near-future science fiction with different speculative priorities" may be a transition to even bleaker times ahead for the genre.

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