Thursday, November 12, 2015

Genre Menu: Please Pick One

One of the hardest questions that Amazon asked me about my forth-coming novel Tracker was to choose which genre of writing best describes it.

Well, duh. Science fiction, Sherlock. It's not like rocket science or something.

Except that when some people hear science fiction, what pops to mind is the image at left. Uh, well... ahem... no, that's not exactly what I meant.

Turns out that science fiction is a sub-category of what is known as "speculative fiction". And within the larger genre of science fiction itself, there are a surprising number of sub-genres.

First off, there's "hard" science fiction, which basically means it's based very rigorously on current scientific technology. Even if the story is projected ten or twenty years into the future, it must be based in real science. No Lord of the Rings fantasy here. Hard science. Michael Crichton is a good example, as is Isaac Asimov.

Then there's "soft" science fiction, which can be much more speculative, and can often include elements that are more sociological, psychological and anthropological in nature. Ray Bradbury and George Orwell are two examples. And this is where the plethora of sub-genres kicks in.

For example (definitions not exactly as Amazon might choose to word them):

Cyberpunk
Basically, technology has kicked society really hard in the nether regions and now we have to deal with it. Think: Blade Runner or The Matrix.
Time Travel
Just like it sounds. Machines or wormholes or whatever moved you from point A to point B (future or past). Don't date that cute girl; you don't want to become your own grandfather.
Military SF
War in space. Things go boom (usually aliens). If not based on actual X-Box games, it sure reminds you of one or three.
Space Opera
Heroic, large scale stories of infinite epic-ness set in space. All of space, not just a few measly planets. Think: Star Wars.
Apocalyptic
Living in paranoid terror of the imminent Big Boom. Oops, too late. Nice knowing you.
Post-Apocalyptic
The Big Boom is in the past. Welcome to society's "new normal" (watch us put the 'fun' back into dysfunctional).
And just in case the newbie sci-fi writer, such as yours truly, is starting to get a handle on where his book might fit, there's always the dichotomy of utopian versus dystopian.

Utopian
Perfection: Huzzah, the Garden of Eden! Fig leaves are available at the salad bar. Don't talk to the snake.
Dystopian
A world where even the cockroaches are appalled. Think: POTUS Donald Trump.
Actually, all these sub-genres kinda reminded me of the endless permutations of the term "Protestant denomination", but that's probably a blog post for another time.

Stay tuned: genre-antics aside, the book launch of Tracker is trembling in the starting blocks. It could be, like, any day now...

(I eventually flipped a couple of toonies and settled on "dystopian" and "post-apocalyptic", if anyone was wondering how my genre-choosing conundrum was finally resolved.)

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