Me: "How about +Tobias Buckell? Have you read him?"
SF: "WHOOOOOO? DAT AUTHER ECKZISTS? WUT? HAHAHA!"
That's the intellectual quality of the SF community right now. 14-year-olds writing text messages.
This is not to suggest that Tobias Buckell's space opera novels didn't sell at all, or that nobody had heard of them. But it seems to me that there's a huge sea of new, adventurous, exciting SF sitting out there on the shelves. Right now. Waiting to be read. If the SF community is really so annoyed by all the darkness and introversion, they can solve that right quick by buying the hell out of the kinds of things Buckell writes. It exists. It's waiting to be read. So where are you, SF community? Why is Buckell not a bestselling author for his non-tie-in SF, hmm? Exactly.
All this fist pumping over Elizabeth Bears column at Clarkesworld seems like a pointless misdirection. SF isn't too dark. SF isn't without its excitement and fun. The community just isn't buying it. They've spent the last 70 years trying to be taken seriously, and now that they are (by academics, by literary critics, etc.), they're shocked to find that what people want to read aren't the adventure novels of old.
You want to solve SF's public image of doom and gloom? Start pushing the stuff you like. Create a blog. Tell your friends. Advertise your favorite books. Write reviews. Otherwise, stop complaining. You created the bed SF sits in, but SF isn't the one that brought the fleas and ticks. It just opened its arms and legs to let them feed.