Science fiction publishing imploded in the 1960s, driving writers like Robert Silverberg to write sleazy sex novels — Silverberg wrote 150 trashy novels in five years, explaining that "A dozen or so magazines for which I had been writing regularly ceased publication overnight; and as for the tiny market for s-f novels . . . it suddenly became so tight that unless you were one of the first-magnitude stars like Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov you were out of luck."
Sf publishing has always been a chancy, hand-to-mouth affair for most. It imploded again in the early 1980s, and there are signs that it's about to implode again. And because they can't hope for sinecure positions in creative writing in universities (although that's changing, now), sf writers have always been ready to turn their hands and minds to the kind of writing that can be churned out quickly and profitably.... While Silverberg et al were working in the titillation trade in the US, over here in the UK Michael Moorcock was editing New Worlds with one hand and writing Sexton Blake adventures with the other, while many of his contemporaries were writing westerns, biker novels and, yes, sexploitation novels. A little later, Kim Newman and Neil Gaiman worked for the British soft porn magazine Knave. And sf writers today are also working in comics and graphic novels, novels based on role-playing games (Kim Newman and a slew of authors associated with Interzone in the 1990s wrote innovative and highly successful short stories novels for Games Workshop), film tie-ins . . .
The question is, if SF publishing does have another implosion, where will authors go this time? Porn publishing has been even harder hit by the Internet than other genres. Where will the suddenly starving SF authors turn this time around? [Paul McAuley]