|Pictured above: Not me and my brother.|
Almost immediately, one of the legions of men who are my literal brothers shot back a message asking if I would be interested in reading some of his written work. That prompted a long phone call during which he confirmed a few suspicions I've seen voiced around the Pulp-O-Sphere.
Before we get to those points, let's get a couple things straight. It's important to remember that this is my brother we're talking about. We've got the same genes. We grew up in the same environment. We spent countless hours separated by a DM screen. During our formative years, we watched the same movies and read the same books. So it isn't too surprising that we share tastes. That said, we've been on our own in this wonderful world for two and a half decades, and in that time we've gone our separate ways. The critical difference here is that this is a guy who hasn't spent the last couple of years tilting at the Hugo windmill, who doesn't spend a lot of time on social media, and who hasn't fallen in with a bad crowd of revolutionaries. This guy represents the average fan of sf/f literature who just wants to read the damn things. For that reason, he serves as an interesting point of reference.
What came out of our conversation was a telling glimpse into the mind of a casual fan of adventure fiction with an emphasis on the sf/f. He noticed the decline in quality of the typical sf/f book published today. He wanted something very different from what the big publishers had to offer. He was desperate enough for stories that fit his notion of adventure and heroism that he sat down at the computer and wrote up a few stories of his own. Including one about a guy fighting a dragon. And all of this over just the last three to four years.
Which is the exact same time frame that I'm seeing in reports around the pulp-o-sphere.
People are tired of genre fiction that doesn't fill a need for inspirational heroism. They are done waiting for the coastal cocktail party crowd to fill that need. They are hungry for fiction that reminds them of the value of truth, honor, and beauty. They can't quite put their finger on the problem, but most of them aren't so much interested in solving the problem as they are interested in handing over their money to those who can solve it for them.
The only hurdles they face today are a limited supply and an inability to find that limited supply.
Fortunately for them, we have top men working on those problems.