Thursday, November 13, 2014

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How Accessible Is Sci-Fi Romance?

Available as an audio book!
At Spacefreighters Lounge, Laurie A. Green blogged about The Paradox of the SciFi/Romance Fandom. Her post focuses on the question of "… what does the big screen have that books and small screen don't?", but the subsequent comment discussion she and I had made me realize there's another layer to this issue: accessibility.

Does science fiction romance lack a mainstream fandom, in part, because it's not as accessible as it could be?

Here's how I arrived at that question. In the comments, Laurie stated, "As a society, we seem to have acquired collective ADD when it comes to entertainment."

Her comment gave me food for thought, and I responded with the following:

I'm uncomfortable with the idea of applying a mental health diagnosis to the state of how consumers approach entertainment. Technology has led to more entertainment choices because artists can exploit more mediums. Consumers don't have attention deficits as a result--they are simply trying out new things or migrating to new mediums (e.g., network television viewers who now watch shows via streaming).

Print books can be limiting and inaccessible for many readers (some can't hold physical books or have trouble reading the text for one reason or another. Then there are things like prohibitive prices or difficulties traveling to brick and mortar bookstores.). I'd like to see SFR expand into things like podcast stories, more audiobooks, comic books, video games and the like because it'd mean more consumers could enjoy this genre in more accessible ways. In other words, if SFR could tap into more mediums, it might find more fans.

Some SFR readers/fans will find it no matter what and regardless of medium. On the other hand, SFR may experience more growth if creators explore ways of telling the stories that extend beyond the written word. How can SFR go to where the fans are? How can this genre bridge the inaccessibility divide?

For example, how about an SFR version of WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE? Theatrical productions of SFR stories at conventions? Web comics, including ones that tell SFR stories without any dialogue? SFR-themed videogames? And, in the future, stories using virtual reality technology?

HALO image source: Gameinformer
Ironically, it'd probably be easier to build an audience for a sci-fi romance film in various countries than a book, even though a film's development is much more involved.

Some of the above ideas would require collaboration between authors, actors, cosplayers, artists, filmmakers, and even musicians. Some would require money and/or long term planning, but I believe others could be accomplished on a shoestring budget. Above all, there's one key ingredient--creators have to want to make SFR more accessible and incorporate that perspective routinely in their efforts. Otherwise, they risk excluding potential fans.

Do you have other ideas about how artists/authors/filmmakers could help make SFR more accessible?

Joyfully yours,