30. Genre: Science-Fiction & Fantasy
This week JJ and Kelly continue with their series on genre in publishing, this week focusing on Science-Fiction and Fantasy. It was a close shave as JJ spilled water on her laptop last week, but her computer pulled through! Also, more about reading ruts and Beyoncé's Lemonade.
Science-fiction and fantasy is generally the genre of What If? Fantasy is the genre of What Could Have Been and science-fiction is the genre of What Could Be.
Broadly speaking, science-fiction is science-based, fantasy is magic, but these distinctions really lie on a spectrum.
When it comes to publishing, your book will either be shelved in Science-Fiction/Fantasy or it could be shelved in General Fiction. This comes down to a number of factors, including who the publisher is. Tor, Baen, Ace/Roc, and Del Rey are science-fiction/fantasy publishers, and imprints like Other Press, Grand Central, Putnam, etc. do more general fiction.
If the focus is more on the fantastic elements (as in, the fantastic elements are the point), then it would likely be pubbed SFF; if the focus is less on the fantastic elements (as in, the fantastic elements are in service of another point), then it would likely be pubbed general fiction.
Sub-categories of fantasy include:
Sword and sorcery
Sub-categories of science-fiction include:
Note on magical realism: JJ considers magical realism a subset of literary fiction, not fantasy. Magical realism takes a fantastic element and uses it as an extended metaphor for emotions, the human condition, etc. A lot of novels called "magical realism" is what JJ considers "light fantasy."
Alternate history, parallel universe, time-travel also fall under the science-fiction/fantasy umbrella.
Horror is perhaps more of a category (like YA) than a true genre, as it can encompass all genres: psychological, ghost stories, monsters, etc.
Fairy tales are more than true—not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.
—Neil Gaiman, paraphrasing G. K. Chesterton
Pro-tip: If you spill water on your laptop keyboard, immediately unplug your computer, turn it off, take out your battery, mop up as much of the water as quickly as you can, then put your computer with the motherboard and innards showing in front of a fan and let it completely dry for a few days. This worked for JJ's computer, anyway!
What We're Reading/Books Discussed
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The works of Robert Heinlein
Dune by Frank Herbert
The Martian by Andy Weir
The works of Philip K. Dick
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The Pit Dragon trilogy by Jane Yolen
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Norby the Mixed-Up Robot by Janet and Isaac Asimov
Kindred by Octavia Butler
The works of Jacqueline Carey
The works of N. K. Jemisin
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
What We're Working On
Kelly is working on her YA, and is apparently inspired and excited to delve into it after JJ laid down some tough love.
JJ wrote a personal essay for an anthology open submission call about doughnuts, Korean school, and shame.
JJ is also trying to write a horror short story, also for an open submission call.
Off Menu Recommendations
That's all for this week! Next week we'll be continuing our genre series with MYSTERY/THRILLER. Thanks for listening!