Even the ancient Greeks struggled with defining genre, and they essentially invented it!
The Speculative Fiction Spectrum
I’ve been mulling over how my novels fit into the spectrum and stumbled across this excellent article from the Irish Times, which claims that more and more genre writers have “an urge to write new stories unconfined by the past” or by genre.
The article goes on to explore several examples of this new “fuzzy edge,” saying:
It’s not easy to point at any one of the books mentioned above and say definitively that “this is science fiction” or “this is fantasy”. The works are so much more than either of those terms imply, and resist being neatly labelled; and yet, all sit comfortably beneath the umbrella of genre.
I’ve been toying with the idea of bending genre to my will, making my third novel more fantasy-like than either The Ageless or The Century. Of course, both of those novels contain fantasy elements, but they read more like science fiction. Which some would say puts them in the so-called “science fantasy” subgenre.
The idea I’m playing around with for my third novel is a planet where a baby inherits a different type of magic depending on what season he or she is born in… What part of the orbit the planet is in around its sun.
Three hundred years ago, a war broke out between various magical factions, creating a magical explosion that was so powerful it could be seen from space. Not only nearby space — its radiation projected through the outer reaches of the galaxy… And attracted a space-faring race that feeds on magic. It took them three hundred years, but now they’ve arrived…
And they’re hungry.
That’s the idea so far anyway. We’ll see where it goes.
Genres Help Readers Find Books
Chuck Wendig once counseled that if writers want to avoid being pigeon-holed, we should diversify early. Of course, he’s also a fan of attaching some C4 to genre and blowing it sky-high. In today’s world of endless e-bookshelves, a clearly defined genre is less of a marketing need and more of a convenience.
But as a reader, I find genre to be useful, and yes, comforting. I don’t like reading a fantasy and then suddenly being surprised with gratuitous amounts of “gritty realism” in my face. I don’t also don’t like reading a science fiction that suddenly turns erotic. Or worse, into a horror novel.
I like reading what I like reading, and genre helps me find it. But some kind of granular genres would indeed be helpful. Is it futuristic cyberpunk? Is it near-future? Post-apocalyptic? Alt history? All of these count as science fiction, but attract different readers.
In the end, it comes down to the fact that I want to write in the genres I like to read. And I suppose I’m a rather “conservative” reader — that is, I generally only read science fiction and fantasy. No horror. No paranormal. No thriller. No mystery. Unless of course they’re blended with SFF.
What genres would you like to see blended together? Leave a comment below or find me as +Traci Loudin on Google+, the perfect place for fans of science fiction and fantasy to hang out.
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