If you've been a fan in the scientificition/fantasy genre for any length of time, you've likely been exposed to rumors of its impending doom. The pulps are gone. The magazines are dying. The best writers are defecting for the lucre of the "slicks."
And what is often pointed to as the cause of the greatest decline of an entity since Commodus decided he liked gladiating more than emperoring? The visual media: science fiction films and television. Why read when you can watch? Of course, maybe the quality's not up to the standards set by written fiction, but who cares?
All this hubbub is silly. There are two reasons why printed sf/f isn't going anywhere, at least for the next few decades. The first is that the quality isn't
in the films or television shows. Sure, there are some stand-outs, like the first season of The Twilight Zone
, and the occasional movie that gets it right, but for the most part, it's monsters in rubber suits and the worst "science" ever concocted.
But the second reason, and this is the rub, is the sheer impermanence of the visual media. If you miss a movie during its run, chances are you've missed out forever. Ditto, television. For instance, I recently learned that an episode of Angel
(think I Love Lucy
, but with a French accent) starred ex-Maverick, James Garner. I'm out of luck if I ever want to see it unless it happens to make the summer re-runs.
My magazines, however, reside on my shelves forever. I can re-read them at will. I can even loan them out to my friends (provided they pony up a $10 deposit). They are permanent, or at least long-lived.
And that's why I'll stick with my printed sf, thank-you-very-much.
Speaking of permanence, I think April 1961 will be a red-letter date remembered for all time. It's the first time, that I'm aware of, that women secured equal top-billing on a science fiction magazine cover. To wit, this month's Fantasy and Science Fiction
features six names, three of which belong to woman writers. Exciting stuff, particularly given my observation that, while female writers make up only a ninth of the genre's pool, they produce a fourth of its best stuff.
(read the rest at Galactic Journey