In discussing point-of-view with a group of writers the other day, I realized how uncommonly first-person narration is used in science fiction compared to some other genres. These things are subject both to trends and to the preferences of various age-groups, of course. It’s pretty well known that teen readers prefer first-person more than just about any age group. And perhaps because of the ascendency of YA, first-person is starting to become more common in fantasy, too.
But I can’t think of too many harder sci-fi books with first-person narrators. I could speculate (no pun intended) on why: maybe it’s enough of a challenge to put a reader in an unfamiliar world or time without making them feel there at the “I” level, too? Maybe it’s because sci-fi writers and readers are weighted toward the male persuasion? Maybe it’s because sci-fi often tackles social issues or grand ideas, and first-person narrators are more likely to focus on personal stories? Maybe it’s coincidence?
Maybe I’m wrong?
What recent sci-fi can you think of that’s written in first person, and what are your speculations about the relationship between story and narrative perspective?
— Joni, who likes third-person better anyway