I’ve already discussed how the Hugo Awards has been tending toward more literary criteria because of the number of humanities graduates currently out there among spec fiction writers vs. the number of STEM graduates. Interestingly, Howell goes on to review how science fiction does in awards outside of the genre, for example, the Man Booker awards.

According to one of the Booker award judges quoted in The Guardian, they see very few SF submissions from publishers. Another judge was quoted as saying SF has become a “self-enclosed” world, presumably meaning SF publishers don’t want anyone else passing judgement on their business. This suggests the problem with mainstream awards is with publishers rather than the awards.

Publishers make the determination of the mainstream literary merits of what they buy. Selling books is one thing, but submitting for a mainstream literary award is something else. I suspect this means the new “literary” quality of speculative fiction is only superficial. As long as science fiction avoids dealing with emerging themes, then it’s likely it will remain in in that pedestrian, WWII nostalgia niche.