I’m a few months late, but here’s a great Neal Stephenson talk that addresses the whole SF/genre/what-is-SF dichotomy/argument/blabber in a rather interesting way: let’s talk about the people who consume SF, versus the people who consume “everything else” — which he jokingly calls “the Mundanes.”
It takes a while for the video to load, but if you’re impatient, you can see it here.
Adrian at mssv posted about the talk here… it seems he was there! And Adrian’s observation about Stephenson’s concept of everyone having an “Inner Geek” (as a way around discussing the link between intelligence and SF media/consumption) is worth noting: I haven’t read Stephenson’s more recent historical novels, but I imagine that’s what he’s about in those novels. Appealing to people’s Inner Geek in new and innovative ways might be the key to finding a niche that speaks to people, while not working exclusively in the “SF” genre, or by perhaps diversifying the genre.
(Actually, that’s reminds me of something Vernor Vinge said to me about my story, “Lester Young and the Jupiter’s Moons’ Blues” — that it kind of does for jazz what hard SF does for science. Which is a neat segue to noting that there was another discussion of that story on the Asimov’s board in late July and early August, here. Wisely, I didn’t participate. It’s not the done thing, is it? Oh, yeah, and there’s this, too, which may interest people who enjoyed the story.)
Check out Adrian’s post — there are links to a couple of great essays by Stephenson over there, too.