I'm always surprised by how few of my friends read science fiction. I shouldn't be surprised, though. Sales for my dark fiction collection far out number sales for my science fiction collection.
As with anything in life, reading preferences are subjective. What one person loves, another dislikes. There will always be certain genres that will be more popular. Certain themes that capture our imaginations en mass. Does that mean we should be writing for the most popular markets? Should I be concentrating on dark fiction because that's what sells?
No. I always stick to the old adage, 'Write what you love, not what will sell'. I know that sounds crazy, because we all want to sell books. We all want an army of readers and loyal fans. But writing for the market rather than what you love will show in the quality of your writing. The passion will be gone. Your enthusiasm depleted. And ironically, science fiction writers and TV shows like Star Trek and Firefly have some of the most devoted and loyal fans. It might take you longer to build that fan base, but if you keep publishing quality books they will come. You will sell books.
My passion lies with science fiction and anything space related. It's the one constant and unending fascination that has stayed with me since my age was a single digit. When people tell me they don't like or understand science fiction, I'm perplexed. I'm lost for words. But that's okay. I guess it would be a boring world if we all liked the same things.
If you want to read one person's fascinating take on why people do not read science fiction, click here. The most interesting point is the author's extrapolation that more left-handed people read science fiction than right-handed because of the way our brains function. I'm left-handed and so allegedly more able to understand science fiction. Hmm. I'm not sure. It would be interesting to know how many of my science fiction reading friends are left-handed, though. Do you read science fiction? Are you left-handed or right-handed?
While I'm talking about science fiction, have you been following the Mars One mission?
Mars One is a non-profit organisation that aims to establish a human settlement on Mars. Their goal is ambitious - they plan to start sending crews of four to Mars in 2024 - and they've received a fair amount of criticism. Though I think their timescales are overly ambitious, it is clear they are serious about achieving their goal. One of the aspects I find most fascinating is that those candidates chosen for the missions (they've already started the selection process) will not be coming back to Earth. Can you imagine the prospect of never returning home? Never being able to walk outside and feel the warmth of the Sun on your face? Never being able to see or have a real-time conversation with your families and friends? I'm not sure I could do it.
Could you go to Mars knowing you were never coming back?