The death of SF

From the SFWA Bulletin:

Judith Berman suggests that the decline in SF&F magazine subscriptions may be due to their failure to appeal to young readers, being full of “…nostalgia, regret, fear of aging and death, fear of the future in general…” I suggest that the magazines may also fail to fully appeal to women who comprise half the population and nearly half of the SF&F fan base.
– Susan Urbanek Linville, “SF and Fantasy In the New Millenium: Female Characters in Short Fiction”

And later in that same issue of the Bulletin, the Market Report, courtesy of Cynthia Ward:

Publishing News:
“British Publisher Gollancz has announced the creation of a new SF, F and supernatural romance line, Gollancz Romance….

Bantam Dell publishes contemporary and historical romance, romantic suspense, romantic action/adventure, paranormal, and erotica and women’s fiction. They will publish their first erotica in 2007….
[Acquiring editors listed are Shauna Summers, Caitlin Alexander, Danielle Perez, Anne Groell and Juliet Ulman.]

Dorchester seeks paranormal romance for their Lovespell imprint… They do romantic comedy and humorous contemporary romance. They’ve had success with Chick Lit in both trade and MMPB….

St. Martin’s is publishing ‘more romance than ever’ and is looking for both contemporary and historical romance, comedy, suspense, light and dark paranormal, and erotica. Monique Patterson buys all of the above. She likes ‘sexy and funny paranormal, romantic comedy, erotica and paranormal.’

An Anthology of Lesbian Sleuths and the Supernatural (women writers only); Lynne Jameck, Editor….

It’s such a mystery as to why fewer people are reading science fiction these days… the evidence would seem to suggest that it’s because science fiction isn’t really science fiction anymore, it’s devolved into a pathetic sub-genre of romance. And men, I remind Ms Urbanek Linville, also comprise half the population.

Given that this mysterious devolution occurred simultaneously with a vastly increased number of women in the editorial and publishing positions where book signing decisions are made, I rather suspect that the two phenomena just might be related.

Obviously, if this is the case, attempting to increase interest in SF&F magazines by consciously adding more female-friendly content is likely to either a) kill them off entirely, or b) turn them into romance magazines. The poison is not the antidote.