Computer engineers and computer scientists have been one of the hardest hit professions in this economic slump. For all their technical prowess, their jobless rates climbed quickly early in the recession compared to other professionals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But interestingly, while the computer geeks were losing jobs, science fiction novels were gaining fans.
“It’s one of the fastest growing e-book categories,” says Jim Milliot, co-editorial director at Publishers Weekly.
A 2010 Harris Poll found more people (79 percent) are reading books. The bigger surprise? More than a quarter of fiction readers opt for science fiction. That’s a big number for a genre once considered the realm of a lonely minority.
“If economy boils down to supply and demand, that’s good news for all those jobless computer pros,” says Paul Dorset, author of New Blood: Melrose, Part 1. A longtime computing professional, he incorporates a lot of the edgy tech elements so popular in science fiction into his work.
“Who can drive a plausible science fiction tale better than someone who knows their bytes from their zygotes?” he says.
For techies still looking for work, or working outside their field, writing science fiction is a novel creative outlet – and “just possibly a money-maker,” Dorset says.
“Take an imaginative mind, apply boundaries around what could be technically possible, and you’ve got the framework for a story with all kinds of possibilities.”