Genre can be a tricky thing to deal with. What’s classed as one genre for one person is classed as another genre by someone else.
I have mentioned before that I use to work voluntary in my local library and I often saw this conflict when we had books come in on rotation (the sending of books to another library to provide new reading material for customers and to freshen up shelves). I would sometimes run a book through the computer system and see that the same book was classed as 2, 3 or even 4 different genres so shelved in different places.
At the same time, I think as writers we can’t entirely constrain ourselves to the codes and conventions of a certain genre. It would be fairly limiting and make the writing of the story not as fun as we first imagined it. Or maybe that’s just me.
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…
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