Brad Torgersen made this insightful comment on facebook
From a comment I made, about someone else’s comment:
“But [the movie] Predatorwill still be as compelling as Beowulf or Gilgamesh.”
I’ve been saying something similar for a few years now. The problem with activism-as-fiction, is that the activism is rooted in a specific time, place, and culture. The piling-on of decades and centuries puts those times, places, and cultures, at further and further remove from the reader. Until the reader loses all touch with the issues — heated and throbbing, for the activists-as-writers in their moments — and the story becomes cold. Remote. It will take academics to explain (to a captive audience of students) why the activism-as-fiction had meaning; and even then, the students will yawn.
Man-vs-monster(s)-in-the-forest is the story that can be told ten thousand ways across ten thousand centuries, because it’s wired into our being. We know this story in our bones. It never gets old. The details and costuming may change, but the basics don’t. It is visceral, it speaks to the heart of what it means to be human — dare I even say, masculine? — and it is the kind of story which can survive the passage of time, enthralling generations anew.
Therefore, activism-as-fiction has a very limited shelf life.
Unfortunately, so many current SF/F writers are obsessed with activism-as-fiction, that the audience (who once numbered in the many millions) has been walking away. Not all at once. But in gradual steps. As more and more of the fiction became less and less fulfilling and satisfying. Because the activists-as-writers were preaching to their respective choirs. And to themselves as well: a spiral drawing tighter, and tighter, and tighter. With the audience fragmenting and falling away at the edge.
All I can say is, thank goodness for Baen, and for indie. Because these are the only two things (in SF/F literature) *actively* working to un-wind the spiral, to bring the audience back, and to give that audience what it wants. Versus merely gaining an increasing percentage of a shrinking market.