Back! Back I Say!

Well we’ve had a good run but I suspect that the bandwagon has lost a wheel. Most will wisely abandon its tattered hulk and flee to greener pastures. Unfortunately a few newcomers will be unable to get away in time and will find themselves trapped among us longstanding passengers whose sentimental attachment has long ago doomed our number to life in the wilderness. Hopefully they can learn to adjust and learn to appreciate the “unique” company. One of us! One of us!

I am of course talking about the impending re-banishment of Science Fiction nerds to the socio-cultural fringe. For a while we were making a comeback, undergoing a sort of rebirth and gaining greater social acceptance thanks in large part to some pretty strong television showings. While Firefly set the stage it was Ron Moore’s epic four season journey Battlestar Galactica which really won both hearts and critical acclaim. Suddenly BSG’s high intensity drama and topical themes had made Science Fiction a viable prime time concept. We had our foot in the door people! Overseas the return of longtime favourite Doctor Who in darker guise brought a similar renaissance, only to have it cruelly ended by the inane though inventive Torchwood. But now that BSG has ended the trend is already reversing itself. Signs and portents my friends: Sci Fi, the American counterpart to Canada’s separate yet linked Space Channel (which is actually a much better channel for fans) has changed its name to the ridiculous sounding SyFy in order to help lose certain associations. Isn’t Science Fiction supposed to be the whole fucking point of your channel? Or is the fact you recently started showing WWE products on your airwaves (and far less actual science fiction) the first sign of your inevitable transformation into a generic clusterfuck like Spike TV or the much lamented G4. I think we Sci Fi nerds are going to be riding the last crest of the wave with the new Star Trek and Terminator (both show and film) material. The good times are coming to a close and I doubt that even Moore’s BSG prequel follow up, Caprica, will be enough to stem the tide. I fear its back to the wasteland with us thanks largely to a dearth of good material, the economic pressure placed on media distributors and the wider appropriation of things once associated with the techy or Sci-Fi nerd “sub-culture”. None of this is anybody’s fault really, it’s just the way the world works. Sci Fi can be a very limited or specific genre and creating a property with enough power and quality to bring in people from outside the normal fan base is an enormous challenge. Though I would like to point out that said base is actually far larger, varied and all encompassing than many often assume. My concern is that economic reality and bizarre marketing theories (which have ruined a great many other things) is making it harder and harder to create original and engaging Sci-Fi content. Here’s hoping I’m wrong!

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