1. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    Can you guess the genre?... cause I can't

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Irish87, Jul 6, 2009.

    I know this must sound strikingly odd, but I wrote an entire novel, eighty thousand words, and I don't know what genre it actually fits into. I will admit that at first it was meant to be Science Fiction, but now that I look back I realize it's not very sciencie. There are no moon people or laser beams, there aren't flying cars, robots exist but to the same extent as they do now. Perhaps I should explain a bit...

    The novel takes place in about a hundred of so years and every thing is generally the same. I know, I know, this seems very implausible. I'm not saying society has not changed, it definitely has, but the world is much as it is today. America has changed drastically and has formed more of a union between itself, Canada, and (begrudgingly) Mexico. The one thing that has changed, however, is the lack of religion. All forms of public activity in relation to religion has been banned. That's not to say people can't believe in their God, they just can't do it in public. Yes, yes, I know, this sounds absurd, and it is. Then again, so is the idea of America joining forces with Canada and Mexico. For all the conspiracy folks who just fell over and are now digging through your files to email me the proof that the Amero is going to replace the U.S. Dollar... please don't. I wanted to have fun with this story and fall into a world that won't honestly happen. So forgive me if this all sounds absurd.

    As for the whole science fiction thing... well, there isn't much. At the very most, medicine and body modification has advanced by miles, making life exceedingly easy. No, people can't jump over buildings or fly. Instead, organs are being replaced without any issue, cancer is not being cured but rather constantly treated, and there is no such thing as obesity. Yeah, you heard me, not fatties. Why? Well, we already have people who will suck the fat out of you with a hose, you don't think in the future we'll have something a bit more... logical? Alright, maybe obesity is not cured, but it's not as common as we think it is now. Unfortunately, the novel does not revolve around this sudden societal change. Instead, it revolves around this man who is looking for a woman. You essentially go through his own life as you find out what happened when he was deployed into Mexico (its a long story, just go with it) and what his own religious beliefs are.

    So I guess my question is what genre does this belong to? I've asked my friends and they're torn. Some say science fiction, others say its a political thriller, and a few of them say it's military/espionage. I understand that asking this while only giving a fairly limited description is not the greatest way to find my answer, but something tells me I'm never going to get it unless I start asking someone. And before anyone asks, it does not have a very strong pro or anti religion message. My personal beliefs are just that, personal. I'm simply using it as a way to tell a story and delve deeper into what a secular society would look like. I made it fair: to some of us it will look like utter hell, while to others it will be nothing short of heaven itself... pun intended.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It can be both science-fiction and political thriller, you know?

    And really, you don't need to have massively advanced technology in order for it to be science fiction. Look at Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, which is classed as science fiction despite having a medieval technological level.
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah. It's definitely a political thriller and sci-fi. Genres overlap all the time. And science fiction doesn't have to be set in the distant future or look like the Jetsons or Star Trek. I've read some that were set around the time they were written. Look at H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. I don't know all their books, but the ones I do know are science fiction and set around the time they were written. A more contemporary example is Robert Sawyer. His novel Illegal Alien is as much a legal drama as it is sci-fi. It's about aliens landing and a murder taking place. The prime suspect is one of the aliens.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I would think of this as sociological science fiction. BTW, my favorite kind of science fiction because it holds truest to the original intent of science fiction. The tech differences are of little importance, just the props on stage, so to speak. What is truly important in a story like this is what you can bring to light, into focus, concerning the human condition.

    We (the reader as marionette to those in marketing) too often allow the trappings (props) of a story to create new (false) genres.

    Frank Herbert's Dune is sociological science fiction. So is Octavia Butler's Lillith's Brood (Xenogenesis). As is all of Samuel R Delany's work.

    These are giants in the pantheon of science fiction.

    I think your confusion as to which genre your story fits into is more an artifact of marketing (gotta give everything a new, fresh name that pops!)

    Your story is science fiction. The good kind.
     
  5. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Flowers for Algernon is science fiction, but had practically none of the trappings.
     
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  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I can't believe I didn't think of this example! Excellent catch, CDRW.
     
  7. UnknownBearing
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    UnknownBearing Contributing Member

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    funny thing, that actually is going to happen according to the Christian religion, except religion is going to be completely destroyed and crushed. well, their Bible says that at least. so it's really not that absurd.


    from what i see, i'd say this is more "political thriller" as you put it. just because it's set in the future doesn't mean it has to be science fiction. i have a novel that takes place in an alternate timeline where the Soviet Union grew into an empire about 40 years into the future from now. and while some could say it's science fiction, i consider it more psychological, drama, action/adventure sort of mystery deal.

    seems to me the focus of your story is really more on society and the world than technology and the future, even if the genre doesnt need all that jazz.
     
  8. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    You're only going to need to call it something in order to get an agent, really. It's up to the agent and publisher to figure out how best to market it. I think you could simply say it's a story about what a secular society would look like at some point in the future, and then see what kind of feedback you get from the folks genre actually matters to.

    Here's something from Michael Chabon's introduction to McSWEENEY'S ENCHANTED CHAMBER OF ASTONISHING STORIES (the rest of the intro is pretty interesting, too):

    "Maybe ... the most useful way to think of the various literary genres is not as discrete rooms in a house or red-lined sections in a bookstore, but as regions on a map, the map of fiction. I would put the country of romance at the center of this map, but as with all maps there is no real center, only a set of conventions. And as with the regions on a map, on the map of fiction there is overlap: sometimes it can be hard to say where science fiction shades unambiguously into fantasy, or horror into gothic romance, or mainstreatm literary fiction into any of its neighboring genres."

    The important thing is that it be a well-written, compelling story.
     
  9. Laverick
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    Is it a genre fiction?

    Is the point entertainment or are you trying to get a point across?

    It could be sci-fi, but if you're purposely putting in a point it's literary fiction. Brave New World is set in the future, but it's considered a literary fictions. It's an anti-utopian novel. However, it does use 'futuristic' qualities.
     
  10. Hsnodgrass
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    Hsnodgrass Senior Member

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    Post-Political-Science-Thriller-Core. A notable, but very obscure, sub-genre New Wave Sci-Thrill. The mainstream likes to call it Fiction, but what do they really know? :D

    Getting to the point, genre doesn't really matter. Call it what you want. If you can't define it, make something up like I did! All that matters is the content!
     
  11. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    My current novel is something of a "mashup" as well. It's certainly Sci-Fi at it's heart, but it focuses on people. Sure there are aliens and a war going on. Of course, I'm only at 40,000 words, so I'm a little less than halfway through. My MC is about to enter the war in earnest so I guess it would be a more classical sci-fi novel at that point
     

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