Speculative Fiction Speed Dating

As I’ve said before, good books are hard to find. I tend to give an author at least three books to catch and hold my interest before giving up. Sometimes I make it through one and start on the second before catching their formula or finding the “Oh, so it’s not what it says on the tin,” and moving on. Three books is reading speed dating for me. Before I moved a few years ago, I sent at least 8 authors to Becca in a box and left at least two more behind. They were all some form of science fiction or fantasy. A lot of what I sent was what I would term “urban fantasy” which is very much “in vogue” right now. And a lot of urban fantasy really is romance wrapped in speculative fiction cloaks. Jim Butcher being a notable exception.

Browsing the shelves became increasingly frustrating as it became very apparent to publishers at the least that there are defined roles of what science fiction and fantasy is supposed to be. Despite the fact that they are shelved in the same spot and often marketed the same way. When in reality there is a huge amount of diversity in the genres and in fact, the genres overlap quite often. But still there are arguments about what is science fiction versus what is fantasy and what is the “true” version of each genre.

And it’s no wonder that comic book movies and perhaps Game of Thrones are the only two types of speculative fiction gaining traction with the masses. When writers and publishers are too busy arguing about what is good and true speculative fiction and putting things into tidy boxes (witness last years travesty that was the Hugos) there tends to be no time to shove outside those boundaries and create new things for the public to get excited about. Look at the genre mixing show Firefly, it is still divisive with a huge cult following and there is a good reason for it. It was different. It was new. It was exciting. It was on the wrong television station.

It’s sad because science fiction and fantasy have so much in common. They are truly part of the same family, speculative fiction. But they are like two brothers who can’t get along and are trying to date the same girl.

Similarities:
-imaginative
-speculation (beyond the hill/stars)
-fun
-sometimes a social commentary
-pushes boundaries

Contrasts:
-magic versus science/DNA bound powers
-logic versus emotion
-aliens versus mythological cryptids etc.

To me, science fiction and fantasy aren’t at odds with each other. They shouldn’t be. They are part of a huge spectrum that should and can be plumbed for different elements to create new stories, new worlds and new ideas.

Here is an example of what I feel the spectrum might look like. This truly my opinion and some things from TV Tropes were left out because “oh for the love of, we are really getting technical here, no. This is the same as that.” And I’m sure I’m missing a genre or two.

scifantasyspectrum

Are we limiting ourselves in the publishing world by saying that magic and science can’t coexist? Can magitek take itself out of anime and role playing games and make it as a bigger genre along with the western science fiction? Are we at the point where pure “hard” science fiction and pure “high” fantasy are a myth, impossible to achieve without ripping off the masters or just plain tired tropes?

That’s not for me to decide. I will continue to write my complicated ideas because those are the ideas I want to read and I’m hoping that others want to read them too. Despite the fact they can’t be classified easily under science fiction, science fantasy or fantasy.

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