Thursday, August 28, 2014

We’re all science fiction fans now

My friend, the writer Ian Sales, made a harmless tweet with regard to why people mock science fiction fans. In one of those weird juxta-twitter-positions it ended up next to a story on the success of Guardians of the Galaxy.  The film has passed the $500 million mark. It is on its way to becoming the top-grossing film of 2014 in North America.

Internationally the story is different, Transformers Age of Extinction remains in the lead with $1.065 billion. Taste, it seems, can get obliterated in translation. It doesn’t disprove my point, though: We’re all science fiction fans now.

I would love to discuss novels and genres, but the fact is, movie-goers outnumber avid readers by about 20-to-one (at least, in the U.S.) So if you want to take the taste temperature of the populace, look up at the big screen. This is the year so far in terms of North American box offices grosses:

1  Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2  The LEGO Movie
3  Guardians of the Galaxy
4  Transformers: Age of Extinction
5  Maleficent
6  X-Men: Days of Future Past
7  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
8  The Amazing Spider-Man 2
9  Godzilla (2014)
10 22 Jump Street

Only 'Jump' isn't speculative.  LEGO most certainly does.

Even more people watch TV. If you count Game of Thrones in the broader genre, it’s still a summer of speculative fiction:
 1  Under the Dome
 2  True Blood
 3  Big Brother
 4  The Bachelorette
 5  The Last Ship
 6  The Good Wife
 7  Game of Thrones
 8  Scandal
 9  Dancing with the Stars
 10 American Idol

Hell, Big Brother should count as sci fi. That’s where the name comes from. The Bachelorette is high fantasy. Dr. Who, not on the list, just had its biggest debut episode ever.

While pigeonholes help one navigate books stores, the labels Science Fiction/Fantasy or Horror or Self Help are not helpful for too much else. In North America, people like stories regardless of the line used to pitch them in the first place. World wide? The planet is doomed. Age of Extinction? Really? Crap might be a genre, but I don’t need to recognize it.

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