WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION – PART 3
At the panel entitled: THE NEXT BIG THING, the brief for the publishers involved was to try to predict the upcoming trends in genre fiction.
Whilst that brief was probably more comprehensively covered in another panel (What do publishers NOT want to see), this one focussed more on the future of the genre book industry in a wider perspective – notably how the methods of reaching new readers is changing at light speed.
And the most exciting new venture, though more relevant to Science Fiction than to Fantasy, was described by TOM DOHERTY, owner of TOR books.
Scientists are concerned about the lack of original ideas coming through from the new generations of science students. The general consensus is that a majority of the ideas dreamed up by science fiction writers of the past have now come to be. This leaves a perceived vacuum for scientists to work in – they are good at solving problems, but not so good at coming up with original concepts.
As a result, NASA has signed an exciting deal with TOR to produce SF books that will be distributed to science students.
Wow! How mind-blowing is that?
SF writers are being given the go ahead to help shape the future of scientific discovery and development, and long term to influence the development of the human race!
Initially, two books have been commissioned:
- a novel dealing with a form of ‘space elevator’, the idea being an update from an Arthur C. Clarke concept.
- a novel dealing with a self-correcting programme. This one has fairly immediate consequences, as NASA is looking to develop it for the TITAN mission, where a two hour communication lag between problem reporting and updating corrections could easily mean mission failure.
In addition to being made available to science students, these books will be marketed as ‘techno-thrillers’ as opposed to SF, to bring in a wider range of readership.
Who would have thought this partnership likely, even ten years ago?
Although initially on a small scale, Tom Doherty has confidence that the programme will lead to greater things.
So who wants to be a NASA sponsored writer???