March 01, 2008

It's Crowded in Here

The Market

I write science fiction stories…just like the other billion people on the planet. As science fiction writers (and sci-fi fans, too), we live in a saturated market. Look around. Books and stories pile up around us like Starbucks bistros in Seattle. They’re everywhere. Everyone seems to be interested in science fiction. It’s become such a huge market that we’ve started categorizing it. Here are just a few:

  • The Scientists
    • Favorite phrase: “The science better be quantifiably accurate in this manuscript or my head will rotate like Jupiter’s second moon!”
    • Character profile: The Professor from Gilligan’s Island.
    • This audience group likes to ponder, likes things to make complete sense (or at least function in a way that’s probable), and they like to make the rest of us look stupid (which is probably true). These guys and gals start talking and we just keep nodding our heads. Some of them even build the things they read about in their hard core science fiction books.
  • The Adventurers
    • Favorite phrase: “What did that scientist guy just say?”
    • Character profile: Flash Gordon.
    • These guys are like the Indiana Jones’ of writers and fans. They moonlight as professors, but they never teach from the textbooks. If you ask them who Asimov is they’ll give you a confused look until you remind them that he was the bad guy from Star Wars.
  • The Imitators
    • Favorite phrase: “May the force be with you.”
    • Character profile: Dr. Spock.
    • Dressing up like their favorite characters, they attend massive conventions with other people that dress up like their favorite characters. Unlike the “scientists,” they have no idea how real science relates to their universe, but they can easily rattle off the reason why a light saber never draws blood (except in the Mos Eisley Cantina scene).
  • The Cool People
    • Favorite phrase: “Mulder’s and Scully would be like, sooo good together.”
    • Character profile: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • The first ones to make fun of “The Imitators,” this group leeches onto popular TV shows and movies without realizing they really are science fiction geeks like the rest of us. They call us losers, but deep down, they really wish they too could build a flux capacitor, dress like a Wookie, or at least jump on the latest comic book craze.

Each one of these audience groups writes science fiction, too. The Scientists write things that the rest of us don’t understand. The Adventurers start a lot of things, but never seem to finish. Fan Fiction? You guessed it, The Imitators. And The Cool People? Well, they mostly just stick to text messages.

So, as a writer, I think about all you guys in each of the groups listed here. I try to differentiate, to tweak things and make them unique. It doesn’t always work, but it pays to try. Sometimes you hit 3 out of the 4 groups and everybody is onboard. Sometimes you hit just one.

What group do I fall under? I’m one of The Adventurers who wishes he could talk to The Cool People, but really wants to hang out with The Imitators.

Which group are you a part of?

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