To continue the celebration of SciFi month, I have a thought provoking guest post by the author of the Immortal novels, Gene Doucette!
What is SF/F?
I have recently been tasked with a subject of great importance: sit down and write about the different science fiction and fantasy sub-categories.
This doesn’t sound like an unreasonable assignment, I grant. And, since I actually am an author who writes things in the SF/F genre—I’m even a SFWA member, no doubt because someone over there made a horrid mistake—one might imagine I have the qualifications to accomplish this job.
I do not.
Here’s the first problem: I write stuff and people tell me what genre it is. It turns out that genre was SF/F for just about everything I’ve done, and that’s fine, it’s only that I think the reason what I write fits in that genre is because the genre is far from a monolithic thing.
Let’s start with the idea that we’ve combined what were already two categories—science fiction and fantasy. I am sure that somewhere on the Internet is a lengthy discussion of the historical significance of this merging of these types, although my guess is it has a lot more to do with bookstores needing to consolidate shelf space than anything else.
There are forty-six different science fiction subcategories, according to advanced research I just did in Google. I haven’t heard of most of them, and you probably haven’t either, but for the record, I think I’d like to write something in slipstream one day, because that’s the coolest-sounding genre label I’ve ever seen. What is it? I don’t know, but I’m totally in.
The same search of fantasy categories also yields forty-six subcategories. This is either an astonishing coincidence or I’m doing something wrong. (Or Wiki only counts that high?) Seriously, this should be an X-file.
The fantasy categories are equally diverse, including things like Bangsian fantasy—concerning famous people in the afterlife(!)--superhero fiction and, once again, slipstream. I didn’t know that most of these were distinct subcategories until now, and according to Amazon I’ve written in one.
I’m not going to talk about all these categories, but I would like to spend a little time unpacking why it is there happen to be so many of them.
Genre categorization is what happens when a lot of people decide they would like a better way to find the things they want to read. I know a lot of authors who rebel at the notion of labeling their book one thing or another (I’m one of those authors a lot of the time, but in my case it’s because I legitimately don’t know what to call what I wrote) but the point of all of this is discover-ability. For instance, if you read an interesting story on what it might have been like for Abraham Lincoln to meet Charon on the river Styx, it turns out there are a whole bunch of stories out there like this in Bangsian fantasy. If you’re deeply involved in the lives of martial arts masters in ancient China, let me tell you all about Wuxia fantasy.
The combined ninety-something sub-categories in science fiction and fantasy speak to the strength and variety of the whole SF/F genre. The obvious next question is: what does it mean for something to be in the SF/F genre in the first place? What do all those categories have in common?
There’s a long answer to this. Somebody’s probably written a master’s thesis somewhere for a very long answer, and it’s likely someone else on this very blog tour has also approached the question. Here’s the short answer, though: fantasy and science fiction—and all the subcategories—are about almost-reality. They’re what the author imagines might happen if the world we live in was different in one or two fundamental ways. They’re the ideas we all have as children—what if I could fly? What if I could make that kid’s head explode? What if I was invisible?—given voice. No, but really: what if I could fly? How would that change the world?
Sub-categories tell readers how to find the books that talk about very particular speculations on the subject, but they’re all dealing with the same kind of question.
That question is: What if?
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Thanks so much, Gene! Remember there are a few days left to get all of the following eBooks for just 99¢. Down at the bottom enter to win TWCS paperbacks, eBooks, and an Amazon gift card!
LEGACY OF A DREAMER, Allie Jean, Paranormal
Chantal Breelan is plagued by horrible nightmares too realistic to ignore. Her past has been a mystery, and the foster system isn’t providing any answers. Starting a new life alone at eighteen is a challenge, especially when things that go bump in the night appear out of the shadows, and her dreams begin to breach reality. Darkness surrounds her from all sides, but is it only evil that hides in the shadows, or are the answers to her past lingering just beyond?
ZOMBIFIED, Maggie LaCroix, Paranormal Fantasy
Monsters know their place: vampires are sexy; zombies just decompose. But Maggie La Croix’s Zombified conjures up an entirely different kind of undead raised by good old-fashioned Voodoo. Take Henri—still gorgeous, over one hundred years after his death. And now a hurricane has set him free from a curse.
Enter Josie, a reporter with her eyes on Henri. But falling for a man without a heartbeat could get her more than a broken heart. It could get her zombified.
THE SIX, K.B. Hoyle, Fantasy
Darcy Pennington feels like she is an insufferably average thirteen-year-old, but when a change in her dad’s job forces her to attend Cedar Cove Camp, she unwittingly stumbles upon a magical gateway. Along with five other teenagers, she will travel to a world called Alitheia. The “arrival of the Six” was prophesied long ago, but will she have what it takes to save Alitheia?
MORE, T.M. Franklin, Paranormal
Haunted by terrifying nightmares and certain she’s being watched, college student Ava Michaels finds an unlikely ally in Physics tutor Caleb Foster. But Caleb isn’t quite what he seems. In fact, he's not entirely human, and he's not the only one.
Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bent on Ava’s capture, and possible extinction. As Ava fights to survive, she learns the world’s not what she thought.
It's a little bit more.
THE SILVER CRESCENT, Debby Grahl, Paranormal
An ancestor’s tale of betrayal, murder and a stolen fortune in silver leads Elise Baxter to Max Holt’s Victorian inn.
She is reluctantly, though irresistibly, attracted to Max. Leery of loving again, Max lets passion overrule caution, tumbling them into an erotic encounter.
Guided by ghosts and opposed by an evil presence, the couple searches for the treasure. But there are others who will stop at nothing to unlock the mystery of the Silver Crescent.
THE MEMORY HEALER, Julie Filarski, Paranormal
When Beth Montgomery reluctantly agrees to carry out a psychic assessment of Carrington House, she is transported to another era, where she sees a date on a calendar that fills her with dread.
Back in the present time and sensing an eternal bond with the irresistible Dr Matthew Jamieson, she wonders whether he was once the darkly handsome but unfaithful Samuel Methven. Beth must regress to the tragic events of 1895 to learn the truth.
HUNTED, Lorenz Font, Paranormal
Disease is ravaging the vampire community in New York City’s underworld. Harrow Gates is sick, alone, and hunted. When Pritchard Tack offers him a new beginning, he is in no position to refuse.
Jordan is a young vampire whose only focus is revenge. In her search for her family’s killer, she meets a man who threatens to pull her heart away from her sworn mission. Is love strong enough to override her thirst for vengeance?
MOUNTAIN CHARM, Sydney Logan, Paranormal
“True love and sweet whispers, till death do us part;
Send someone to love my Appalachian heart.”
At the age of thirteen, Angelina Clark followed in the footsteps of her ancestors by casting an Appalachian love spell, which promised she would blossom into a beautiful and gifted woman who would find her true love. A young Angelina had been thrilled to participate in the sacred ritual, but through the years, her father’s untimely death and her mother’s failing health have shaken Angelina’s magical faith to its core. As her twenty-first birthday approaches, she refuses to practice her supernatural gifts and no longer believes in the love charm.
REDEMPTION, Lindsey Gray, Paranormal
Life is for living. Afterlife is a chance at redemption. As the only remaining female vampire in existence, Lily attempts to make her way towards her ever after. But with best friend Becca, new beau Ian, human husband Ryan, Archangel Peter, and a host of demons all standing in the way of Lily's chance at a peaceful eternity, how can she possibly survive?
CONVERGENCE, J.D. Watts, Paranormal
Daniella Rossi is a nineteen-year-old college student who sees the world quite differently than those around her. From infancy, she was aware of the beings that walked among her kind who were not like them, as well as her own personal Guardian who watched over her. Dani always knew she was different, but she never dreamed the full scope of her importance. When a new male Guardian comes to replace her lifelong friend and companion, will Dani be able to accept him as she deals with a world full of the other Children of Creation, Angels, both good and evil?
OBVIOUS CHILD, Warren Cantrell, SciFi
In 2015, Sam Grant is chosen to take part in a contest that will choose the world’s first time traveler. There’s just one problem—Sam doesn’t want anything to do with the contest. Yet his deliberately profane public appearances and sabotaged interviews only boost ratings. Now stuck, Sam must plot how he’ll get out of the contest, or if he should embrace it all and become the most famous person in history.
GHOSTWRITER, Lissa Bryan, Paranormal
Unemployed, with her savings dwindling, Sara Howell thinks things are looking up when she lands a ghostwriting job and rents the affordable island home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.
Strange things happen, making Sara wonder if Seth ever left. When she finds an old trunk of Seth’s letters, she delves into a world she never imagined, filled with love and a family curse it seems only she can break.
THE STARS ARE FALLING, Michelle Birbeck, Paranormal
Jenny’s life revolves around surviving university, watching the stars, and staring at her housemate, Dale. But as the night sky glows with the light of falling stars, Jenny’s classes and crush seem unimportant. The Stars are retaking Earth, saving mother nature by eliminating the problem. Together, Jenny and Dale can save the world and the human race, but surviving long enough to convince the Stars of that is perilous and may kill them both.
EVERYBODY OUT OF THE LAUNDROMAT, I NEED TO THINK!,
Phil G. Glenn, Paranormal
When the ordinary life of Virgil Blaine crosses the path of the even more ordinary Doug Coulthard, it sets off a series of extra-ordinary events. Doug Coulthard is a Filing Clerk and the President of the Unpublished People’s Poet’s Party –Political Unit (UPPPPU) where a catastrophe has just happened; two of his long time members have been published. The UPPPPU goes on a recruiting drive by distributing leaflets, one of which finds its way into Virgil Blaine’s pocket. Virgil Blaine, who is a slight poet himself, attends one of the meetings where he meets Forward Slash who offers Virgil Blaine a job. The offer comes with two things Virgil Blaine has never had; a job and a car and on a whim he accepts. The problem is, through no effort of his own, his position is suddenly elevated. Virgil Blaine says the job is ‘messing with his DNA – Deliberate Non-Achiever’ and he misses his old life and so hatches a plan to get it back…
SEBASTIAN AND THE AFTERLIFE, William j. Barry, Paranormal
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Sebastian, an average seventeen-year-old boy, has just paid this debt. He awakes in a surreal world somewhere between mortal life and the afterlife, where the Grim Reaper rules and his loyal agents maintain the law. But not all is peaceful in this mystical realm. Axis Red and his soul pirates threaten the future of all who dwell there.
Sebastian soon finds himself at Sapentia, a high school for the departed. There he makes new friends but longs for his lost love, Sarah, who is still alive in the mortal world. Some things are forbidden; some lines cannot be crossed. What will Sebastian risk to be close to Sarah again?
Continue the adventure with Sebastian and the Afterlife Book II - Agents of the Reaper