Economic collapse, the heat death of the earth, and the forthcoming resource wars of the 2010s: what do these things mean for genre fiction?Â Some subgenres will prosper, presumably, others will decline. As we are plunged into a real-life gothic-punk nightmare, what people are looking for in escapism and exoticism seems likely to change.
What’s going to happen to all those books about gritty decaying Dickensian cities once we’re all actually living in one?Â
Test case: pirates.Â There’s been a bit of a resurgence of pirate stories recently. Fun and light-hearted escapism, with just a touch of tongue-in-cheek jokiness.Â What’s going to happen to the demand for pirateÂ stories now that pirates are actually a problem again?Â Â OK, probably not much, not yet.Â Somalia is a long way away from the US or European market.Â Â SomaliaÂ might as well be Narnia for all the US market gives a damn.Â Â So how much closer and more prevalent wouldÂ piracy have to get before it affects reading tastes?Â Suppose international civilization degrades to the point at which pirates are attacking shipping in the North Atlantic, let’s say once or twice a month.Â I imagine for a while that would increase the demand for pirate stories.Â Look how the demand forÂ light-entertainment movies about terroristsÂ has increased since 2001.Â But terrorism, of course, has so far been a pretty distant and rare phenomenon.Â More likely to be killed by lightning than by terrorism, etc.Â Just scary enough to be entertaining and titillating, not scary enough to be offputting and unpleasant.Â But what if piracy started really ruining your day? What if you started getting piracy off the coasts of New York or the Netherlands?Â I’m not really willing to rule that out.
Yes. Anyway. Pirates. Has a pirate ever ruined your day? Tell us about it in the comments.