A friend made an observation after reading the most recent People who used to read science fiction post that a return to the genre's pulp origins might be what's needed to revive science fiction. I think he's right, though in a sense that may well already be underway. Franchise tie-ins with their orientation towards action and adventure and their optimistic endings are the new pulp.
Which raises a question for those of us working to revitalize original literary science fiction: How do we break down the barrier between that solid-selling pulp and it's struggling little sister, SF lit? How do we get tie-in readers to make the jump?
Writing and selling optimistic science fiction would be a start. And there are others in the field who feel the same way. Jetse de Vries' Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic SF was put together with the same idea in mind. While I unfortunately did not feel engaged by the stories in the anthology--the book was way too ideologically polarized for me--it was reassuring to see that someone else feels strongly about the positive potential of the genre.
Others are working to create literary SF that hearkens back to the adventurous glory days of pulp, as well as its action-oriented descendants. Fellow Writers of the Future winner Jordan Lapp of Everyday Publishing recently forwarded this announcement about the relaunch of the space opera magazine Ray Gun Revival:
Ray Gun Revival (RGR) is an online magazine dedicated to fun stories, grand escapism, and good old sensawunda. RGRl provides just that, a throwback publication that revisits space opera and golden age sci-fi. Their stories focus more on character development than hard science and sail all the wide-open waters between science fantasy and harder SF. Think of the original Star Wars stories, Doc Smith's Lensman series, the Warlord of Mars tales from Edgar Rice Burroughs. Think of everything from John Carter and Gully Foyle to Kimball Kinnison and Han Solo. They are bringing out the deepest elements of what has traditionally been rather superficial fiction and updating them for a new generation of fiction enthusiasts.
Honestly, what doesn't sound kick ass about that? So if you're a genre fan in search of fun reads, check them out. They go live February 1st.