Today, we look at the year that gave us Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and "Ender's Game" — does 1977 deserve to be crowned the Best Year of Science Fiction Ever?
If ever there was a year that changed everything for science fiction, it would be 1977. For most of the 1970s, movie characters stumbled through a slew of crunchy, gnarly future dystopias and televisied science fiction was cheap and clunky. And then two films changed everything: Star Wars and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. And with them, space opera and alien adventures came roaring back. All of a sudden, space battles and extraterrestrial cultures were everywhere, and we were no longer stuck on a dismal Earth.
Not only were movies and television transformed, books also took a swerve away from the experimental darkness of the New Wave and science fiction launched a new publishing boom, with a lot of authors seeing print for the first time in the late 1970s, thanks to a renewed interest in the genre. As Eric S. Raymond writes, the publishing boom that followed Star Wars — and books like Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer and Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly — made the genre the second-biggest category after romance novels. According to Raymond, prior to '77, the amount of science fiction being published was small enough that a dedicated fan could read all of it. Not so anymore.
And 1977 was also the year that Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine began publishing and Orson Scott Card's short story, "Ender's Game," saw print in Ben Bova's Analog Science Fiction and Fact.