Anyway, I had an epiphany while reading the ToC of the 2007 Year’s Best Science Fiction. Which basically amounted to– “oh.”
We don’t read them. And they don’t read us.
Well, really. I wonder when the last time was that Bob Silverberg read a story by Benjamin Rosenbaum, David Moles, or Yoon Ha Lee?
See, I’m thinking I’m on to something here. There’s a generation gap in SFF; we’re having different conversations, the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, and Generation X. And as the Millennials (really, guys, this Gen Y thing has to stop: grant the kids their own identity) enter the genre, they too will be having their own argument.
Reporting on this year’s Hugos, Nicholas Whyte observed that Elizabeth Bear is only the second person born in the 1970s to win a Hugo Award for fiction. (Tim Pratt was the first, winning the short-story award last year.) I found this stunning. This means that of the 94 people who have ever won fiction Hugo Awards, only two are under 38 years old. When I was a young SF reader, Hugos were regularly won by people in their twenties and early thirties. It’s one thing to murmur about the aging of SF; it’s another to look at the numbers.
Anna Lawrence (in the comments to PNH’s post):
Are we allowing for birth date: date of Hugo ceremony? Maybe authors born in the 50s are ‘old’ now (I would dispute this), but if they had won awards in the 70s and 80s they would have been Young Turks (and, if in the 60s, child prodigies).
Hence, a graph, based on Nicholas Whyte‘s data, plus this year’s winners.
(For some reason, I couldn’t get Excel to export in colour. Don’t ask me why. UPDATE: New graph, courtesy Liz. Praise Liz!)
- In the first three cohorts, between 7% and 17% of Hugos for fiction go to people in their twenties; after that, none do.
- In the first four cohorts, between a third and half of Hugos for fiction go to people in their thirties; once you get to the nineties, that drops to less than 15%.
- The proportion of Hugos for fiction going to writers in their sixties is twice as high in the present decade as it’s ever been previously.
P.S. New site layout — good? Bad?