Why is the state of science fiction and fantasy so dismal today? So lifeless, boring, and pedantic. The problem, of course, lies with those who claim to write scifi and fantasy. Here is an open letter I wrote to the retarded scifi writing community some time ago:
Dear, dear friends:
You are awful. All of you. (Yes, ALL OF YOU!)
Please do not take it personally. But someone has to tell you this, and it might as well be me.
You suffer from three key deficits: LACK OF IMAGINATION, LACK OF EMPATHY, and LACK OF SELF-AWARENESS.
First, your lack of IMAGINATION.
99% of scifi/fantasy novels can be categorized as follows:
a) "Hip", "Modern Day" Fantasy: "diverse" teenagers with magical powers fighting vampires in urban settings.
b) Teenagers suffering deprivation in a post-nuclear wasteland;
c) The so-called "epic" fantasy novel, with "world building" expecting you to learn the history of hundreds of characters, castles, cities and taverns like a History of Art exam.
d) Everyone fighting World War II again, in outer space; and
e) "Hard" scifi, with 500 pages of hand wringing and mental _asturbation about a transmission from an alien sphere (or… if you're feeling imaginative… an alien cube!).
Not only are these topics very, very trite, but your rendition of them is even worse. You're like a bad photocopy machine making worse and worse copies which themselves are bad copies of other copies.
Furthermore, the very dim lightbulb in your head is only bright enough to generate one idea (at most). So if you start out writing stories about Unicorns refighting WW II in outer space, ALL your stories will undoubtedly be about Unicorns refighting WW II in outer space. But, to make it last, you chop it up into nine or ten books with numbers in the title, each of them 250 pages long in big double space print. Maybe in one novel the Unicorn will have a battleship instead of a battlecruiser. Maybe in another the Unicorn will be wearing a funky helmet. But at its base, it will all be the same story. Hence your LACK OF IMAGINATION.
I have more imagination in my finger, my little finger, than all of you combined. My books are so creative that many of them defy categorization. You can mock them, but you don't have the brain cells or the creativity to create something truly original like "Sleeping with Hitler's Wife" or "Darwin's First Law".
Now for your lack of EMPATHY.
People are easy to please. Really easy. We are all wired to sympathize and empathize with others. That's why we get such a thrill over "shipping", stories of complete strangers having a romance with each other. All you have to do is create characters which are real, relatable, and interesting, and readers will be hooked. It's in our very nature; it's like shooting fish in a barrel.
Unfortunately, you can't even find the barrel. Your characters are all two dimensional, put on this Earth to fulfill a quest. They are little more than video game avatars. Characters are defined by being multifaceted and their relationships to others. But you are clueless about this. You have no idea how to write characters that are interesting to people. All your characters are wooden, or worse, unpleasant, or EVEN WORSE, virtue whores who obnoxiously wear their race/gender/sexuality on their sleeves like a Twitter profile. People don't want to read about bland "nice friends" or social justice warriors. They want to read about James Bond, Gandalf, and Mr. Spock, characters who are multifaceted and unusual. You don't even have the faintest idea how to create such characters (relating back to your LACK OF IMAGINATION).
Lastly, and most importantly, you lack SELF-AWARENESS. And what do I mean by that? You lack the self-awareness to write stories which are entertaining. Most of your dialog is simply mindless small talk about food, clothes, buildings, dry politics of far away kingdoms, or other topics with zero dramatic impact.
Tell me, dear friends, when you write a page of dialog, do you ever go back and ask yourself if that page was entertaining, if people might ever want to reread that page even after reading it once? No, you never do. For you, dialog is simply something mechanical, to simply advance the plot, a means to an end rather than an end in itself, or even worse, it's simply mindless small-talk that you stuff into a turkey with its legs widely spread so that your masterpiece can get to the right weight to be sold.
So you write a story where nothing much happens, or maybe a lot happens, but either way you miss the primary point of the story itself--to show a series of dramatic effects on the main characters. Drama is not merely about things happening to characters, although things do happen to characters. Drama is where characters react to things happening to them in a way that provokes change and reaction from characters. But you can't understand that, because you lack self-awareness.
Most of your books are either about mindless small-talk, or about PROCESSES, as if you were writing a physics or political science textbook. World building should be in service to character drama, not the other way around. Most of you spend so much time talking about the minutiae of "how" that you lose sight of drama between characters, which is what drives every story. We don't need to know how hyperdrive works or detailed bios of all the four legged princes of the unicorn kingdom, we just need to know enough to create a story for characters to interact in.
Unfortunately, you have trained readers to expect bad writing. Readers now EXPECT they will have to plow through hundreds of pages of drek to get to a real story. You have TRAINED them to expect to struggle with your books to try to squeeze some relatable drama from it, and that is why I hate you the most, because you have crapified an entire field of literature. People have come to not only expect your drek, but to demand it!
And so when people, exposed only to a lifetime of your drek, stumble across my books like desert travelers to an oasis, their first reaction is often to blink rapidly and say "What Dat?"
Even from the covers, people can tell my books are different. They don't have meaningless one or two word titles like "Hard Impact" or "Final Conflict" and pictures of tiny stick figures in shadows that look like mannequins surrounded by random explosions. My book descriptions don't have any of the ten buzz phrases people are accustomed to seeing in a book description which say everything and nothing ("full of twists and turns which will keep you glued to your seat!")
And my books are about many different topics. As a result, my books will never be as popular as yours. People want predictability. They want same-ness. They want books with numbers in the title. They feel a fantasy novel can only be "epic" if it's hard to understand and a struggle to read. They want their WW II stories to be filled with stories of grunting space marines firing laser machine guns and throwing laser grenades on enemy positions. They want to read story after story after story about America turned into a desert wasteland filled with zombie mutants.
My stories, on the other hand, simply confuse them. They are about many different topics. There are no laser machine guns blazing away in page after page of meaningless battles between characters we have no reason to care about. My characters definitely are not politically correct. They may not even believe in man-made global warming or fifty four genders. Even WORSE, women are actually attracted to men in my stories and they are not always fighting gender wars with each other (which infuriates the cultural marxists, because to show a sensual woman, in their mind, is to degrade her--women are only to be portrayed from the neck up, in their new unbending manifesto).
And that is why I will never sell as many books as you do.
Thanks so much for that, by the way. You should feel proud that you have lowered an entire genre to mediocrity.
It amazes me that I see all these things I describe above and none of you... none of you do. It's like living on a planet of blind painters, and I'm the only one whose noticed that you ran out of paint a long, long time ago.