In a recent NPR interview, Margaret Atwood speculated that the next dystopian novel to capture our attention won’t be a novel as we think of them now:
Well, it won’t be a book, according to Atwood. “The question to be asked is, if somebody does write such a novel where will it be published?” she says. “I think we might go back to newspaper serials … Because events are evolving so fast it would almost take a serial form to keep up with them.”
I agree, but I wonder if this is a case in which we can look backward and forward at the same time. That is, I do think publishing speculative fiction in widely-read periodicals (and on their corresponding websites) would be ideal to reach the broadest audience. That said, what if we couple these venues with ones that are already in place that essentially do present serial speculative fiction?
If newspapers (and the like) drew on the editorial talent from weekly and monthly SF venues, not only would we be more likely to see the kinds of serials Atwood suggests, but also the SF the authors write and the editors foster would reach a larger audience. I’ve heard a number of authors, editors, and publishers bemoan the fact that SF–a genre with great potential for social change–just doesn’t reach enough readers. Perhaps this would be a way to make reaching more readers possible.