M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Fantasy or Science Fiction: What's Your Genre?

Science Fiction or Fantasy?  Have you decided what genre your WIP is?  What happens if your idea straddles the boundary between science fiction and fantasy.  Of course, it could be argued that science fiction is really just another form of fantasy.  On that level, literary fiction is fantasy too.  It's all made up, even if some actual event is the spring board that launches you into the story.

The question came up at my last critique meeting.  One of my critique partners had a short story published by a regional e-publisher.  [Steven A. Benjamin:  Just Desserts, TWB Press]  It's a fun story about the devil and attacking desserts, and I'm a great-aunt of the story since we critiqued the holy heck out of it -- which Steve admits.  [So, the link]  

TWB Press does science fiction, supernatural, horror and thriller short stories.  Not, dyed-in-the-wool fantasy so I couldn't submit "There Be Demons" even though it has a supernatural element.  It's a novel anyway.  I did put it on my publishers list because I may write a short story that'd be appropriate.

In my mind, the question involves "Dark Solstice" after it gets rejected.  [Hey, I'll be pleasantly surprised if they request a full ... but I don't know how close the the target my premise gets to the publisher's sensibilities.]  The question:  Is "Dark Solstice"  science fiction or fantasy. 

The argument for science fiction, granted social science rather than hard science:  the effects of genetic drift on a mixed population with two distinct genomes.  In the "old days", I might have used the word "races" to discuss the genetic combining of elves and humans, but that's not kosher anymore.  What happens is that traits and skills get mixed in a population:  1/4 genetically the same in one population, 1/2 mixed genetically, and 1/4 genetically the same in the other population.  Half the population would have no magic, and the other half would have an over-abundance in basic Mendelian terms.  Of course, that's for just one gene.  The possible manifestations increase with the number of genes.

The problems of mixing gets more complicated because genes don't stay on their original chromosomes.  They jump [transfer] from maternal to paternal chromosomes and back again.  So, you never quite know which traits might appear in a physical individual.  "Dark Solstice" is set in a background where most of the population has mixed genetically ... while still being governed by the original mostly elvish population four hundred years later.  ---  Try to fit that into a query or snynopsis.

Other change thread concerns the economic structure:  from a feudal society to a mercantile one -- which doesn't have a hard science component.   [If economics was a hard science, the US wouldn't be in the fiscal mess it's in.]

The argument for fantasy?  We're talking about elves here, philandering elves, who abandon their offspring, at that.  I doubt if most American publishers would see beyond the elves to see the social science.

The bottom line?  I'll probably self-publish in a couple of years ... making another critique partner happy -- since she sees no sense in bothering with the traditional publishing scene.  I'm with Steve.  It's nice to have the imprimatur of someone who's willing to put their money where their mouth is. 

So, what's my genre?  A jumble of ideas, aka a mixed genre story.

It must be Spring.  I'm mixing sorrel and chives in with the store lettuce.
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