1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Speculative Not quite dystopian, not quite sci-fi, ....

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by GingerCoffee, Sep 8, 2014.

    This thread stems from the "What is Science Fiction" thread that I didn't want to derail.

    I was calling my novel genre sci-fi because it is set in the future in another star system. But the focus of the story is not the science fiction aspects involved. So readers may be disappointed.

    And I don't want my novel to be identified as Dystopian Fiction because of the stereotype that accompanies that genre label. I'm not writing one of those seriously dystopian worlds. Unless one would consider the socio-political aspects of the world today as 'dystopian'.

    So I'm having a dilemma. Does every novel that depicts the things wrong with society have to be in the dystopian genre? Is every novel set in the future in another solar system necessarily sci-fi?

    Is calling something Spec-fiction too general?

    Sci-fi dystopian-lite that promises not to disappoint? :p
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Hard to say without seeing the work, but I use "dystopian" to describe a world where life is bleak and joyless, and far more likely to become worse rather than better. I certainly don't consider modern-day life to be dystopian, yet.

    As to what to call it, the stories I've written in that genre would probably be classified as science fiction by any interested publisher, but I would prefer they be referred to as "near-future fiction". Most take place less than a hundred years out. I think any story that took place in another inhabited galaxy would have to be classified as science fiction.
     
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  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think your story is very much science fiction, from conversations we have had in the past concerning it. Many of the most important works of science fiction don't focus on the tech factor. DUNE is one (and perhaps the best) example of such.
     
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  4. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is it in a star system far, far away?
     
  5. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    If Westeros is a continent on a planet that orbits a star other than our sun and the war of the five kings takes place in the future, then is A Song of Ice and Fire science fiction?
     
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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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    Depends on who you ask, I guess. The same question could be asked of Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels or MZB's Darkover novels.
     
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  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I guess I'd call it soft sci-fi?
     
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Four and some lightyears away, a 40 year journey at 10% the speed of light because FTL travel is unrealistic, and I'm going for a little more realism.

    It's only a century or so in the future.
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Genre is really just a marketing tool that publishers use. Take McCarthy's The Road for example. It's set in a post-apocalyptic world, but the novel is closer to traditional literary fiction in its execution. As another example, take magical realism vs. fantasy. They have similar elements, but the latter places a greater emphasis on the fantastical elements. This distinction isn't that important when you're initially writing something; it's something that's decided by the publisher. So my suggestion would be to stop thinking about genre altogether, but if you really need a label at the moment, use your best judgment.
     
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  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That makes sense, @thirdwind. I've needed to use some kind of genre when introducing my work to new members of the critique group. When I called it sci-fi in a new group a couple weeks ago, some comments were that it needed more tech or the reader would be disappointed.

    And at some point I'll need a genre label in my query letters. That's coming up soon.
     
  11. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    If it helps, from what I understand, a lot of dystopian fiction is shelved under sci-fi. So it just might be that members in your group have only been exposed to a particular type of sci-fi and aren't very familiar with the dystopian sub-genre.
     
  12. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    The question you should be asking is not "what genre is it" but "what kind of reader will like it."
    If you write a story that a science fiction reader would like, sell it to a sci-fi agent.
     
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  13. Empty Bird
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    It sounds kind of sci-fi to me!

    Depends, really. Dystopian is a genre of a future gone wrong- like The Handmaid's Tale or Nineteen-Eighty-Four. But then very often these genres have aspects of sci-fi in them because they're set in the future. Meaning technological advancement.

    I wouldn't worry about the stereotype of dystopian. I don't actually see a stereotype. There's so much maneuverability (probably spelt that horrible word wrong. I swear if it was alive it would be a terribly cliche villain) with dystopian!

    But in the stars...probably sci-fi- depending on how you've set the future to be, of course.
     
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  14. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Literary Sci-fi? ala - McCarthy & Atwood.
    I always have the same problem trying to figure out where my stories fit. Wish there was a shelf labeled - we don't freakin know.
     
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  15. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    That would be very unhelpful. As said above the genres are to point the audience to you. No one is going to the "we don't fucking know" shelf to take a crap shot on whether or not they will like the book.
     
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  16. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Couldn't be any less helpful then the huge-ass general fiction section at the local Chapters.
     
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  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I like the idea of a book that doesn't fit a genre. I mean, my book is what it is.

    But I'd be more inclined to give it multiple or overlapping genres rather than 'unknown' considering target audiences are important marketing considerations.

    On the other hand, @Jack Asher, much as I agree with you there is the other problem of disappointing one's market if they believe they will get a genre they don't get.

    I'm writing the story I want to tell, not the story I think will sell. Yes, I do want it to be read. And there are some things that with readers in mind, I've worked on. But my goal here is not to write something marketable for the sake of marketing the book.
     
  18. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Speculative fiction I always think of as being under Sci-Fi, purely because Steampunk is speculative fiction, as is alternative reality novels, and Sci-Fi just seems a good fit.

    (This isn't a very interesting post, most of the juicy stuff has already been said and I'm ill.)
     
  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm sorry you are not well.

    I'm new at this stuff but looking up genres, sci-fi fell under the larger spec fic umbrella according to Wiki, thus my thread title category.
     
  20. Mangyhyena
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    First off, you don't need to focus on the tech, especially if your characters are used to using it in their lives. Do you marvel at computers, microwave ovens, and cell phones? No, you simply use them, like any other tool. It can be the same with your characters, and probably should.

    I would say your story falls under the umbrella of science fiction. No need to explain it as dystopian to readers, especially if you don't think of it that way.

    I just wrote a short story set a bit in the future, but the tech, while evident, is not the focus or driving engine of the story. I am proud of it, but would have a difficult time categorizing it if I had to submit it to a publisher. Fortunately, I will self publish this one on Amazon, so I'm not too worried about defining it beyond the blurb.
     
  21. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you changed your setting to an alternate world but basically identical to Earth with similar issues you could ignore the sci-fi part and just tell your story. Not sure if that is what you were sort of doing on Alpha Centauri or not.
     

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