The problem—and the big trend I'd draw from 2007—is that the niches have less and less to do with each other. Sites like Pat's Fantasy Hotlist and Ambling Along the Aqueduct both serve their communities very well, but their concerns are miles apart. We may well wind up with a field that's too fragmented to grasp whole.There is something to that. Having read both sites on occasion, one would think that there is barely any unifying element between the two, yet they are both "spec fic" sites. Is it a matter of where finding one's niche is leading to further and further fragmentation of a "SF Identity"?
Whether or not that might be the case, it was quite apparent to me after reading the latest SF Signal Mind Meld that even defining what "science fiction" is might be as much a sign of a fractured identity, with resulting "white noise" from those cracks and fissures. The more I read such attempts to "define" the area and what is and what is not a part of "SF," I cannot help but to get this mental image of a group simultaneously defining itself as what it is not and then trying to include almost everything under the sun. Compounding this issue is the knowledge that a great many books that might be better served by being identified as sui generis (such as Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, for example) are now being "claimed" by some as being part of this or that movement.
Perhaps it's a marketing-driven problem, or perhaps it is related to an increasing need to label and to classify just about everything "just so." I wonder what the late Michel Foucault would have made of all of these classification schemes for certain strains of fiction writing if he were asked to do a revision of The Archeology of Knowledge. Or would it be best to just admit that there's some "white noise" (which Don DeLillo so famously used as a title for an outstanding book) out there clogging our perceptive nodes and leading to some gaps in our own personal quests to find that je ne sais quoi somewhere around the corner or over the rainbow?