The plan is simply this: to bring new readers into the SFF genre.
We’re at a tipping point. Genre is invading the mainstream â€“ or so many articles in newspapers and on television would have you believe, yet the book industry is always anxious at sales performances. It’s a tough environment out there, at the front line. It seems that each year there are scare stories about people reading fewer books.
So I think we can certainly bring significantly more readers into the genre, and while we’re at it, tip genre more into mainstream culture. How? Well, Jeff’s site is pretty well connected as one of the top book blogs. All the right people read it â€“ hell, you’re reading it, right?
What if all these interconnected people settled on one day a year to recommend a Science Fiction or Fantasy novel to a friend or colleague?
Anyone you know who looks down on the genre, or hasn’t even read a genre book, give them a copy of your favourite SFF novel, and tell them: “This is what you’re missing out on. You’ve not given the genre a chance before. Read this and you’ll change your mind.” It would be a conscious effort on your part.
If a small percentage of those who accept the challenge are converted, they might end up buying more SF and Fantasy novels in the long run. That’s good for the industry, and such a movement might drive genre books into mainstream literary culture. It will depend upon everyone rolling their sleeves up, though.
A mad experiment? Naivety? Maybe.
I think it will be the true test of the power of the internet on publishing.
Mark Charan Newton was born in 1981, and has worked as an editor for imprints covering film and media tie-in fiction, and later SF and Fantasy. His first novel, Nights of Villjamur, is published by Pan Macmillan (Tor UK), and will be released in June 2010 from Random House (Bantam Spectra).