Being a fairly prolific short story writer, Iâ€™ve noticed something rather strange happening in the last couple of years: Iâ€™m at the forefront of a lot of so-called â€œmovementsâ€ in genre fiction.
Â What does it all mean? Why me? And how do I opt out?
Â I first noticed this phenomenon when my story, â€œHow to Make Paper Airplanesâ€ appeared in the Mundane SF issue of Interzone. Mundane SF! Has there ever been a manifesto destined to annoy more SF fans? And somehow, my story opened the issue â€“ did it mean I was from then on Mundane? Would they, in fifty years time, hold a House Committee on Un-Science Fictional Activities and someone would snitch them my name and I would have to go to Washington to explain why I was sighed up to the Communist Party Mundane SF?
Â And now thereâ€™s Shine, Jetse de Vriesâ€™ anthology of Optimistic SF. I have a story in there too. Does it mean I believe in a shiny science fictional future where weâ€™ll all live in Gaia mind-melds and convert faeces into nuclear power with our minds? Am I morally right in joining the movement? What will I do in fifty yearsâ€™ time, when the Earth is a wasteland and the Dutch aliens have taken over the world?
Â And then thereâ€™s Interfictions II, an anthology from the dark cabal with the unlikely name of The Interstitial Arts Foundation. Donâ€™t mess with the IAF! They have agents who come knocking on your door at night, and if you incur their wrath youâ€™ll never be seen or heard from again…
Â Whatâ€™s it all about? What the hell is interstitial? Is it infectious? Is there a cure?
Â What am I doing here??
Â Science fiction has always been overly attracted to manifestos. Letâ€™s make our own group within this group! Weâ€™re not the Judean Peopleâ€™s Front, weâ€™re the Peopleâ€™s Front of Judea!
Â So what shall I do next? Whatâ€™s the next big thing? Post-post-singularity? Retro-Cyberpunk? Mega-interstitiality?
Â I donâ€™t know, but I like to get paid, and so I might just join the next revolution â€“ and the next â€“ and the next… or end up first against the wall when the real revolution comes.
Â But I always felt kind of sad I missed out on cyberpunk. And the New Wave was kinda cool, and the drugs were better then. And what about New Weird? I mean, seriously â€“ what about New Weird?
Â Iâ€™m going to put on my mirrorshades â€“ spend some time in Inner Space â€“ go space opera, or New Space Opera, or so-new-itâ€™s-not-even-here-yet space opera â€“ go Mundane â€“ go optimistic â€“ go zombie infestation â€“ go cosy apocalypse â€“ go where no one has gone before â€“ maybe go a little mad…
Â So what do you think? Whatâ€™s the Next Big Thing? Suggestions will win chocolate â€“ or might just earn you a visit from the IAF…
Lavie TidharÂ is the author of linked-story collectionÂ HebrewPunkÂ (2007), novellas An Occupation of Angels (2005),Â Cloud PermutationsÂ (2009) and Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God (2010) and, with Nir Yaniv, of The Tel Aviv Dossier (2009). Heâ€™s lived on three continents and one island-nation, and currently lives in South East Asia. His first novel,Â The Bookman, will be published by HarperCollinsâ€™ new Angry Robot imprint in 2010, and will be followed by two more.