Monday, April 28, 2008

The 2020 Summit and books

Hi all,

The “Creative Nation” group at the 2020 summit seemed dominated by film, with nothing said about the Australian book or fiction writing market. I suppose the ailing film industry needs all the help it can get, but perhaps if they made more genre films, like science fiction, it would be more successful. Big grossing films like the Mad Max Trilogy and Wolf Creek show how successful genre films made in Australia can be. The Matrix series and Dark City were also made here, but not with Australian money. The industry needs to get away from historical dramas, lame-arse comedies and its love affair with druggies.

I am one of the five percent of Australians who pay to see Australian films. The Proposition (western), Mad Max (science fiction), Lantana (thriller/drama), He Died with a Falafel in his Hand (comedy), Bliss (fantasy) and The Cars That Ate Paris (horror) are favourites. The recent 2:37, which did not get a cinema release in Wang, is not a bad film either.

Australian books make more much more money than the Australian film and music industries combined, so where were the high profile fiction writers at the summit? Script writing seemed to be the only writing mentioned at the summit. (Are there really that few decent scripts written in Australia or is it just bad choices from our funding bodies and investors? For example the writers/director of very successful Saw trilogy tried to get the first one made in Australia.) I wonder if the book publishing industry in 2020 even cracked a mention at the summit.

Here are a couple of my own predictions about book publishing in 2020. Novels and especially text books will mostly be electronic (web, ebook). Apart from the obvious interactivity aspect for text books, the main reason I give for this is global warming. The number of trees for paper production will be limited as more land is used for food and bio-fuel production. Fires will also account for a lot of trees. So books will have to fight to use the limited amount of recycled paper. Perhaps the Creative Nation summiteers could have discussed ways the electronic distribution of books could benefit all those involved, especially the authors. I read recently that Amazon was trying to force all electronic books to be “printed” by the one publisher. I can’t see a monopoly benefiting authors.

I see science fiction turning to a darker view of our future as the reality of climate change and all its potential and happening calamities finally start to hit home. The media will change from trying to distract us from the looming disaster we have helped create, to telling us to get off our arses and do something about it, instead of trying to make us feel good by turning our lights off for an hour during Earth Hour. Science fiction writers will reflect this change of attitude. It will take at least a century to turn around global warming – unless the singularity comes up with some technological wonder solution like carbon dioxide eating replicators – so science fiction will be a reflection of our struggle.

I am predicting pessimistic electronic books will dominate science fiction in the decades to come. What are your predictions?


PS There are two types of people who don’t believe global warming is happening, man-made and a potential disaster: the ignorant and the selfish.

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