Top Subgenres

Author Jon Del Arroz recently passed along this intriguing chart from SFWA's Nebula Awards presentation. H/t Bradford Walker.

Science Fiction eBook Sales

The numbers must have come as a shock to the creative writing degree holders and Clarion Workshop grads at SFWA. Meanwhile, anyone who's been watching the market knows that the ideologically driven, realism-influenced SF that routinely wins Nebula and Hugo awards is less relevant than Sanskrit beat poetry.

None of this comes as a surprise to the legions of readers who've been following Jason Anspach and Nick Cole's Galaxy's Edge series or the works of Richard Fox. (Re: the Hugos, it's no coincidence that both Nick and Richard are Dragon Award winners.) Mil-SF, adventure, and post-apocalyptic books dominate the sci-fi market. Campbellian hard SF barely cracks the top ten, while Worldcon favorites like anthologies and pozzed fiction go over like BLTs in London.

Another key insight this graph spells out is that short fiction is dead as Dillinger. The short story's demise is by design. The Campbellians and Futurians took over the big anthologies and magazines decades ago. Find me an SF fan who religiously read Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, or Asimov's since the 70s (or before in the first two cases), and I'll show you a fan who's since cancelled his subscription.

The SF short story market collapsed because the gatekeepers deliberately banished escapism, heroism, and action from the format. They tried to murder novels, too, and they almost got away with it. Amazon has been the science fiction genre's saving grace. The tradpub gatekeepers didn't see it coming, which tells you how little they know their own industry.

Since at least the 1940s, the sciffy literati have been working to purge any trace of masculinity from the genre. They purposefully strove to replace the Shadow, Doc Savage, and Conan with Kickass Strong Female Characters™ , Scalzified soyboy snarkitrons, and androgyne sideshow attractions. Men responded by abandoning print sci-fi in droves at the reader, author, and editor levels. They were supposed to have nowhere to run.

Amazon utterly wrecked the tradpub gatekeepers' plans. By giving indie authors a viable sales channel that totally disintermediated the Big Five, they let dispossessed male authors write the action-adventure stories they wanted to write. And mirabile dictu, the male readers who'd been run out of tradpub came flocking back. Build it, and they will come.

A corollary to this rule is that wherever you see shills professing that some science fiction media property needn't appeal to young men, you know the IP has been converged by Morlocks who are trying to destroy it.

Mil-SF is king. Long may it reign.

Combat Frame XSeed promises to be an even wilder ride than I'd expected.

In the meantime, I'm pleased to report that the sci-fi short story may be due to rise from its grave. Outfits like Cirsova, Superversive Press (whose #1 anthology Forbidden Thoughts featured my own best selling short "Elegy for the Locust"), and even my own Strange Matter collection have been bringing fun, action-packed short fiction back. You can now get the thrilling, chilling, and startling Strange Matter anthology absolutely free.

Strange Matter - Brian Niemeier


  1. "The numbers must have come as a shock to the creative writing degree holders and Clarion Workshop grads at SFWA."

    John Scalzi hardest hit.

    1. Even if Trump and the weather weren't against him. he'd never finish his contract before the whole legacy publishing industry fell out from under his feet.

  2. I'd really like to see short stories make a comeback. If you go back a few decades you can find some excellent shorter works.

    1. There are those in the #PulpRev and Superversive scenes hard at work on cracking the short story viability problem. I think we're getting tantalizingly close to success.

    2. @Rigel Kent & @Brian
      Steve Ditko made his name on the 5-page twist ending story in comic books. Few could equal what he did.

      Making a short story work takes talent, so the talentfree mainstream writers shy away in droves.

      Let the ebooks flow, Wordsmiths!

  3. It doesn't help that short stories and anthologies are spread across three different categories, either.

    What kills me is how low LGBT and Humorous are. And what are the two categories that WorldCon continue to prop up regardless of audience interest? It's really no wonder things are so bad.

    And yes, Action Adventure will always be king no matter how they try to sabotage it.

    1. "It doesn't help that short stories and anthologies are spread across three different categories, either."

      Yeah. That was weird.

  4. The Hugos turned into something similar to the Modern Art con: if we pay enough people ridiculous sums of money and give them awards, the hoi poui will buy into the con. It’s amazing to what lengths the people of the Void will go to to prop up this garbage. Well, revenge is best served by eating a big helping of success right in front of them as they starve.

    Curious as to what a chart review of the genre of fantasy would look like. I fear fantasy is in a far more dangerous place than SciFi.

    1. From what I've seen, fantasy outsells science fiction but is even more creatively bankrupt.

    2. Fantasy has Tolkien/Martin clones and Mieville "new weird" runoffs.

      That's about it.

    3. "From what I've seen, fantasy outsells science fiction but is even more creatively bankrupt."

      dude you have no idea... It is SO bad...

  5. And now we can see why the SJWs continue to do this despite commercial disaster.

    They do it deliberately, as a display of conquest and dominance, in a way of saying "We took this from you, and therefore we are better than you; watch us destroy what you love while being unable to stop us because you are too weak or stupid to do so."

    This is why just abandoning them and rebuilding anew is never enough- why they come for EVERYTHING we build. They conquer and destroy as a core element of their religion--and it is a religion--because their religion hates Civilization and we are Civilization.

    1. Sounds an awful lot like what the Moslems did/do when they take over a place. It'seems like they try to voice Comanche speech about hearing the lamentations of your women etc.

      The solution is to stand up to them and actually defy them. Then they shriek and run away like the soyboys they are


    2. The conquest of Western culture by Leftism and Tommy Robinson's imprisonment aren't unrelated.

    3. Agreed. How many pedophile British Politicians have compromised and subject to blackmail?
      The rape gangs are creepily similar to the nazi death squads.

  6. "Find me an SF fan who religiously read Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, or Asimov's since the 70s (or before in the first two cases), and I'll show you a fan who's since cancelled his subscription."

    I'm not sure I qualify, since I only started reading Analog in 7th grade (1979) and F&SF and Asimov's in the early 80s, but I still have subscriptions to all three titles. Hardly ever read them anymore, though.

    Thanks for the chart, Brian. I hadn't seen it. I'm not surprised in the least, although I am disappointed time travel isn't ranked higher. Same with space opera, although it overlaps mil sf quite a bit.

    The thing most of the SJWs don't get is that we (or at least I) read to be entertained, to be inspired by heroics, and to visit exotic places, preferably populated by beautiful princesses. I don't want to be preached at.

    1. You're most welcome.

      As Bradford said above, the SJWs do get it, and they hate it. And they're working around the clock to destroy fun, beauty, and heroism.

      NB: I strongly advise against giving money to people who hate you--particularly when there are deserving but less well-known alternatives like Cirsova, Storyhack, and Superversive Press.

  7. Speaking of the pantsing of Short Stories, this article from Broadswords and Blasters pretty much says it all:

    We have guidelines on our website. They detail, in what we hope is clear and concise language, what we are looking for. They can be broken down in two parts. The first is the genres we are looking for:

    -sword and sorcery;
    -westerns (Weird or otherwise);
    -horror (Cosmic, Southern Gothic, visceral, and psychological);
    -detective tales;
    -two-fisted action;
    -retro science fiction
    If you can squint real hard and fit your story into one of those buckets, yeah, we’ll read it and give it due consideration. Mash-ups of the above are also great[2]. Here’s what we see too much of:

    1.Epic or high fantasy.
    2.Fantasy that is a reskin of a Dungeons and Dragons game.
    3.Engineering science-fiction where the hero can solve the problem with a calculator and wrench[3].
    4.Stories where talking about the problem somehow solves the problem.
    5.Slice of life stories that would fit better in a literary magazine. No speculative gloss at all which made both editors scratch their heads and ask “Why did they send this to us?”
    6.Urban fantasy.
    7.Allegories (religious or otherwise) where a solid chunk of the story relies on telling some sort of moral.


    This is what the majority of people think short stories is supposed to be. Thank you, Shirley Jackson and John Campbell, for ruining a whole writing form.

    1. Big Men with Screwdrivers rear their bespectacled heads.

  8. I am just getting into short stories. Cordova and StoryHack have intriguing stuff. StoryHack having a slight edge based on reading 1 issue from each.

  9. They are doing this to all classic literature.

    They don't need to ban them or burn the books like in Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, because they have a more efficient and frankly far more sinister method to get rid of them; they demonize the works, they mark them as every "-ism" in the world, as childish or infantile(like how Landsdale tried to do with Robert E. Howard, a guy with more talent in his pinky than Landsdale has in his entire mediocre and unimaginative career) and sadly most people have been brainwashed so badly they will stay away from these works in fear of being labeled as such, and thus slowly but surely fewer and fewer people are reading classic works, and if it continues on like this then classic literature will be forgotten.

    However, I'm more optimistic about our chances, since SJWs and the Left have doubled down so hard on their tactics people have not only started to notice, they have started to push back against it quite strongly. Everybody is getting tired of them.

    The recent event with DragonCon rejecting SJWs is a small step, but a step nonetheless. I'll take any small victory we get against them.

    1. Well said.

      Jeffro has a proven method for gradually easing victims of Leftist brainwashing into the pulps. I've recommended REH stories to people and watched the scales fall from their eyes in real time.