I have a distinct if unquantifiable sense that sf in Britain has become more male-oriented over the last few years (since, if you like, the end of the so-called British renaissance). I have no idea why this should be.
I asked whether he’d be willing to put a date on that ending. Martin Lewis suggested:
2000? Publication of Look To Windward in which Banks symbolically loops back to Consider Phlebas. Also publication of Revelation Space which marks the rise of Alastair Reynolds and the new generation of British male space opera writers.
To which I have just replied:
Not sure about that. Andrew Butler’s article on the boom [pdf] wasn’t published until 2003, and refers to it as contemporaneous: “It is asserted that there is currently a boom within British science fiction — by editors, by critics, by authors, by readers, in the pages of Science Fiction Studies and in the publicity for some events at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London in May 2003. Let us assume that this is not a mass delusion, and there is indeed a boom.” He also includes Reynolds in his census of boomers, which I think is right; to me it feels as though the period, say, 98-03 is when the boom really got traction. I might even pick Interaction as its peak moment, with that all-Brit shortlist for the Best Novel Hugo. I suppose you could say that’s also when it ended, but to be honest, until Paul’s comment I thought of it as a continuing phenomenon.
Your thoughts? It now occurs to me that Paul may have simply meant to suggest that the shift he detected in itself could be taken as a marker of the end of the boom/renaissance, although I’m not sure that holds up. Surely the central marker of a boom has to be the visibility and success of the thing that is booming, and I don’t think there’s been a change for British sf on either front — or if there has, it’s been upwards, given the recent Hugo successes of messrs Gaiman, Stross and Mieville. And Doctor Who.