Red for passion, Red for action and adventure and yes, Red for violence. Red for courage, Red for heroism, Red for heroics. Red for vividness and blood-stirring excitement. Red for outrageous creativity and inventiveness. Red for a vitality and drive that was, little by little, lost over the decades. Red for characters who fought and strove and lived, and writing that was about evoking emotions in the audience, not abstract intellectualisms or ideological lectures. Red for the blood of humanity.
In the days of the Pulps, magazines had to cultivate an audience and keep serving them, just to survive. Pulp stories had to thrill and enchant the audience. The further F&SF gotten away from this keystone, the worse it has become, and the smaller the audience has become: You can track the descent of the genre by the decreasing emphasis writers and editors placed on giving the audience what they wanted.
Rod Walker thinks that is a very good point – “decreasing emphasis writers and editors placed on giving the audience what they wanted.” There is a lot of that in traditional publishing as editors and agents wish to lecture their audiences instead of entertaining.
A similar mechanism exists today. Rod Walker suspects that the modern heirs of the pulps, the writers who are in tune with giving their audience what they want, are the indie-published writers on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and other ebook platforms. There are no layers between an indie-published writer and his audience, which means the writer has an easier time giving the audience what they want.
Like, on any given day, between 10% to 50% of the Amazon science fiction Top 100 lists are claimed by indie-published books:
The phenomenon isn’t limited to science fiction. A casual perusal of any of Amazon’s Top 100 genre fiction lists will uncover a lot of indie-published books. For those preferring more data-backed evidence, the Author Earnings website has a lot of well-presented information showing just how dominant indie publishing has become.
So, RW thinks that good science fiction and fantasy haven’t died. They are merely have a below-the-radar renaissance as indie-published ebooks, the true inheritors of the pulp tradition.