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The clear trend in the awards nominations over the last few years it to more sentimental stories. This means that hard SF, the kind that actually deals with current science and with possible futures, tends to get marginalized. This is because the editors are sifting the slush pile for award-winning stories, and the present and future just aren’t popular topics.

I want to take another look at what Stanley Schmidt said about hard SF, as McCalmont suggests something similar. In pointing out “Flowers for Algernon” as an example of “hard SF,” Schmidt broadens the field considerably. This is a story that’s not much concerned at all with the scientific details of an experimental procedure, but instead concentrates on the effect this has on the subject’s life. It investigates scientific policy, in other words, and the ethical and moral implications of medical procedures that are meant to improve life but really may not. In this day and age, the story would likely be about financial issues instead.

This is what McCalmont points out. He notes that there seems no current alternative to the neoliberal vision of capitalism, and points this out as fertile ground for science fictional investigation. This would be a matter of social and political science, rather than hard science like physics or chemistry. But, would anyone actually consider this kind of story science? Because it’s against the prevailing ideology, would anyone consider it worthy of note? Or should we go with the next zombie best seller instead?

This is nothing against zombies. It’s just that they’re not generally focused on scientific, social or political ideas.

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