I’ve mentioned before that I have recently submitted a story to Critters.org, an online critique group. You might have caught my live-tweets of all twenty critiques I received for my short story. If you didn’t, you can click here to read them.
One thing that I found interesting was a fairly consistent comment that my story wasn’t “Sci fi” at all, or that it wasn’t “fantastical” enough.
It is easy to dismiss these readers as people who just didn’t get it. I don’t think that’s a safe thing to do. What I’d like to know is what qualifies a story to be “genre” enough to be considered “genre.” I want to start a conversation – here, or somewhere – about what makes a science fiction story science fiction.
I maintain that if it steps outside of things that could or do happen in our real lives with our real science and the things that exist, that it’s science fiction. If it asks “what if?” It is speculative fiction, regardless of what subgenre heading it might appear under.
I was actually offended when the critique writers said it wasn’t genre. But I wonder about reader expectations and assumptions. Is that why “Time Traveler’s Wife” is shelved in the literary section, and not Sci fi? Because readers expect certain things? I’m not sure. I alwas assumed that was to sell more books.
Let’s talk about genre people. Who determines it? Does it really exist? Further – does it matter at all?
- Please Recommend SF Books for a Course on Technology and Culture (jameswharris.wordpress.com)
- Science Fiction: Nostalgic Past v. Dystopian Future (jameswharris.wordpress.com)
- 12 Real Life Inventions That Science Fiction is Neglecting at its Peril (io9.com)