Jul 15, 2009

The Next Big Thing...

Over on the Odyssey Workshop Livejournal, they've got an interview with Ginjer Buchanan. Ginjer Buchanan is the editor-in-chief of Ace and Roc, two rather prolific publishers.

The interview is short but interesting, go check it out.

I found the most interesting comment to be the following:

OW: Which subgenres do you see way too much of? Which subgenres do you not see enough of?

GB: These days, we have a deluge of Urban Fantasy. As to what we don’t see enough of—I guess I’d say military sf. It works well for us in mass market.

So Ginjer is suggesting that Urban Fantasy has reached it's saturation point. Coming from the editor of Ace and Roc thats a strong statement. Roc and Ace publish almost every genre sub-genre out there, including Urban Fantasy heavy hitters The Dresden Files (Jim Butcher) and the Nightside books (Simon R. Green), so it's fairly safe to say she's got her fingers on the pulse of genre fiction.

I would concur with the opinion that there's plenty (on the side of too much) of Urban Fantasy out there. I've got my series (the aforementioned Dresden Files and Nightside, along with Felix Castor and Joe Pitt) so my plate is just about full when it comes to Urban Fantasy. I'm sure everyone else has their series as well. While I'm sure some of the new stuff has merit, it's not going to sell as well as the established stuff.

Regarding Military SF, my plate is almost empty. John Scalzi isn't writing any books in the Old Man's War series (for the time being at least), I believe Robert Buettner's Orphan series is wrapped up, and I'm not sure whats left in Jack Campbell Lost Fleet sequence (which is published by Ace, coincidentally). Those are the Military SF series I'm reading currently and even those aren't exactly flagship titles (minus Scalzi who isn't writing that series currently). So there is room for more Military SF.

However, I wouldn't say that a Military SF Renaissance is upon us. I'm tempted to say the next big thing is Historical Fantasy / Steampunk , similar to what Stephen Hunt (The Court of the Air, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves) and George Mann (The Affinity Bridge) are doing but I don't know if the market for that is as high as that of Urban Fantasy. Urban Fantasy got a huge boost from Harry Potter and a life extension from Twilight. I don't know if there is any subgenre out there right now with a feeder system like that. We might just see a rebalancing of subgenre publishing (and hopefully no more vampires).

Can Military SF make a comeback? Will Urban Fantasy sales level off? Whats the next big subgenre?

Comments are encouraged. I'd love to hear some opinions as to what the next big thing is.


  1. Two things:

    1) What are Star Wars and Star Trek? Are they military SF? Kinda? Sorta? I go back and forth on this one. After all, we are talking about the armed forces for both universes. I have to think, though, that Star Wars and Star Trek are considered their own separate genres at this point... :)

    2) It seems to me that a great deal of other spin-offs usually end up being military SF. The biggest examples that I can think of come from videogame spin-offs. The ones that immediately came to mind while reading this are the Halo, Mass Effect, and Starcraft universes. These are all military SF, right?

  2. 1) Star Wars and Star Trek are in some ways military SF but I would agree that they are their own genres at this point. Star Wars is...Star Wars.

    2) Again, while they are similar to military SF they are also tie-in works. The military aspect carries over because no one likes to play FPN (First Person Negotiators). I would say they don't apply because you can't just submit a tie-in novel like you would a regular novel and I was framing the discussion based on Ginjer's comments regarding submissions. But it's definitely a fine line.

  3. I think that there will be more Military SF soon.

    The german writers are coming starting at Stahlfront for example.
    Classical easy to read pulp.

  4. I'm not familiar with Stahlfront. Can you provide some more info? I tried ye olde google search but I don't speak German.


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