One of the things that agents, authors and film-makers have to do when they are assessing books and films is to determine not what’s popular now, but what will be popular in the future. If you’re looking for someone to gaze into a crystal ball and tell you what they think, then people trying to sell stuff a year or two in the future are the right people to ask.
We’ve seen the big trends wax and wane. I’m pretty sure that except for a few television shows and ongoing book series, most creators and audiences are suffering major Vampire Fatigue. The portal fantasy will always have a place (Harry Potter, Wizard of Oz, Narnia, Alice in Wonderland… etc.) but it seems to stand outside of major trends as a subgenre. I think the Hunger Games and the CW’s “The 100” will finish up the dystopias of badass teenagers. There are the survivalist-dystopias like The Road and The Walking Dead, I think those will continue to hold appeal, but with a twist.
My guess for the next big trend in Science Fiction? Space Colonialism.
It allows the world to still be dystopian and destroyed – forced to leave to find new colonies – as much as it allows for the continued love of the Star Trek reboot. It allows colonists to be stranded on a strange land (like the now defunct series Earth2), or have to get along with Alien races (Defiance). This is the twist on survivalism I mentioned.
Colonial sci-fi allows the colonists to go somewhere completely strange and different (Ann McCaffrey’s Pern springs immediately to mind). And it still allows room for the social commentary that most of us expect from good science fiction. I’ve heard rumors that Octavia Butler’s Clay’s Ark is being discussed as a film, which is failed colonialism that results in Earth being taken over by strange symbiotic beings!
In terms of fantasy, because Game of Thrones and The Hobbit continue to make good money, my guess is that High Fantasy will stay in the limelight. My guess is that dark, edgy fantasy that isn’t paranormal romance will get some attention. Perhaps Neil Gaiman’s amazing work, or Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn. (Personally, I’d love to see his Warbreaker be made into a film.)
What do you think? What’s the next big trend? What about the one after that?